Wot I Think: Quantum Conundrum

By Alec Meer on June 21st, 2012 at 6:14 pm.

I vowed solemnly to myself that I would offer my written opinion upon Quantum Conundrum without so much as mentioning Portal. “Alec old bean”, I bellowed at myself while brushing my teeth and drinking a large glass of whiskey in the shower, “it’s not terribly proper to forever perceive someone in the light of their previous achievements. You should treat this new game of physics puzzles from former Portal lead Kim Swift and her current studio Airtight Games as its own entity rather than in regard to how it compares to Valve’s non-combat first-person games. I say, would you like a scotch egg with that?”

When I left the shower to start actually playing Quantum Conundrum, it was near-instantly clear this promise to myself could not in good conscience be met.

It is, as we well knew, a game about solving physics and logic puzzles from a first-person perspective, but that isn’t what might put you quite so acutely in mind of Portal. That does not have a monopoly on that style of game, even if it might be perhaps the best known proponent of it. I welcome quite wholeheartedly a chance to explore brave new worlds without having to pull a gun on anyone. In QC’s case, the key interaction comes by using a mad professor’s glove-shaped dimensional hopping device as a conceit to instantly make objects (mostly crates, but a few sofas too) heavier or lighter, to slow down time or invert gravity. Only one can be active at a time, so it’s a matter of working out the right patterns and orders to navigate a series of obstacles and locked doors to reach an exit. It’s clever, inventive stuff in concept, and often in practice too.

I shall more fully discuss the success or lack thereof of this aspect of Quantum Conundrum shortly. What surprised me in terms of the game’s Portalosity is just how closely it apes the structure and tone as well as the concept. The unseen, quipping narrator who’s built an indoor maze of traps and puzzles (this time within an architecturally-implausible mansion), the way each challenge room is bookended by a short monologue from this character, the anthropomorphic machines, the only regular sighting of other people coming in the form of paintings, the narrator and silent protagonist’s somewhat ambivalent relationship, the way the player can conveniently survive huge drops unscathed (no leg braces here, though), the use of a hand-mounted doo-hickey for spatial manipulation… Perhaps some similarities were unavoidable, perhaps some were unconscious and perhaps some are purely because I’m seeing the game through the prism of my familiarity with and fondness for the Portals. It’s just, well… If you’re going to so overtly take after a game that’s been so widely hailed as a modern classic, you’d best do it damned well.

Hmm.

Minute to minute over the last couple of days, my opinion towards Quantum Conundrum has changed dramatically. Moments after thinking “yes, this is smart and charming and just what gaming needs more of” I’d be wishing the most awful suffering upon its creators. After a stretch where I’d become convinced my mental health depended on playing not a second more of this infuriating thing, I’d be joyfully trotting around another of the impossible mansion’s hallways, high on curiosity for what it was going to ask of me next. It alternates excellence with folly, at speed.

Some consistency of opinion did take hold for a few hours when the narrator offered, “Urgh, these hallways all look the same.” That is true. They do all look the same. And that makes for navigational confusion and visual boredom. Your ‘urgh’ is correct, sir. I briefly considered catching a plane to Seattle, taking a taxi to Redmond then waiting in Airtight’s reception until I’d explained to every last employee there that if you have a flaw, limitation or other irritating element in your videogame, you should not a) further draw your player’s attention to it and b) not then make light of it. Address the problem, don’t shrug it off with a naff gag.

It’s this strange, apparent problem with self-awareness that so regularly drags Quantum Conundrum down from being the triumphant party it repeatedly threatens to be. It’s full of small annoyances that I’m genuinely amazed didn’t come up in playtesting (or perhaps just weren’t considered significant enough) and whose net result is to foil the joy of experimentation. Bits of pipe that conveniently turn intangible at just the point where you’d be able to jump from them to reach a ledge, certain types of boxes that forcibly slide you off them and deactivate jumping so you can’t use them as steps even though they’re visibly large enough… Then there’s the steep, spiky difficulty curve, mainly due to the increasing requirement for high-speed precision jumping and rapid power-switching, which seems entirely at odds with the game’s stated mandate of being for families and less traditional gamers. I wanted to play around and experiment more with the dimensions and their rich possibilities, but so often they end up being a backdrop for a rigid platformer.

The greatest sin of all, the thing that makes me scream and curse and shake my fist at the skies, is that John De Lancie’s – for yes, Q himself is mad professor narrator whose voice is your near-constant companion – addled quips/hints often come as precursors to the more challenging puzzles/jumps. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again. If you fail and die, considerate checkpointing means you will at least restart just before the challenge. But you will hear the quip again.

You hate me now, I realise this. But you understand, at least. I’m no programmer, but I can’t imagine it’s anything like impossible to add a string that prevents the same voice clip from playing more than, say, twice. I’m also no master of gaming but I can usually hold my own. Even so, some of the timing/jumping puzzles saw me die repeatedly – dozens of times – even once I’d established what the required solution was. Figuring out the way forward is usually quick enough and reliably satisfying when there’s that sudden click of realisation, but putting the string of jumps and button-pushing and dimension-switching into practice can be a little too exacting, while the controls manage to be both twitchy and unforgiving. It is not a game for the easily-stressed. More positively, you might feel it’s got more meat on its bones if you felt Portal 2 was too sign-posted and easy. It’s just that it errs more towards reflex challenge than cerebral challenge, which isn’t entirely what I desired from a game called ‘Quantum Conundrum.’

Now, let’s talk about the quantum element. It’s full of brains and beans in that regard, escalating from humble light-state or heavy-state inducing puzzles to elaborate chains of hopping across sofas tumbling into the abyss in super-slow motion while trying to catch a thingy that’s plummeting upwards in anti-gravity then hurl it into a receptacle on the other side of the room without tumbling to a messy end in a lake of unspecific sciency-fluid. The flow is at times magnificent, all these strange but physics-dictated elements working in balanced tandem to create something only a videogame can do, but one that so few try to. It bites off more than it can chew – or, at least, more than any players not drenched in patience can chew – a little too often, but it’s steeped in ingenuity and artfully-planned butterfly effect challenges. Having a quad-set of powers means it could be said to have more variety than The Game Whose Name I Shall Not Mention Again, though the aforementioned visual sameiness sees it shoot itself in the foot in the sustained novelty regard.

It’s most certainly a game that made me feel better about games in the wake of all that gore-porn and Uncharted-cloning at E3. Which makes me all the more disappointed that it’s lacking that extra 5% of polish that would elevate it from “ooh…” to “wow!”

Huge amounts of blame for this, in so much as the right tone could have hid a multitude of other small sins, can be laid at the door of the narration. Having Q from Star Trek nattering away in my ear should have been a delight. I’m no Trekkie, but Q! Q! Alas, something nebulous is distractingly wrong with John De Lancie’s performance. I’m loathe to guess at exactly what went wrong and why, as I don’t know the conditions of the recording sessions, but certainly the audible effect is that he’s reading his lines out loud for the first time.

He has bags of enthusiasm and he’s at least in the suburbs of charisma even if he’s not caught the right bus to slap-bang city centre, but a great many of the emphases seem off, a few lines sound like a canned railway announcer declaring the arrival of the six-FIF-teen… from… MAN!..chester and he carries the same artificially jocular tone whether he’s expressing joy, anger, fear or sagacious wisdom. His is a constant presence, which makes it more than a superficial deflation. Q’s not-quite-right jabbering upsets the overall tone of the game.

It’s tough to get a clear sense through this of what the writing’s really like. A worrying majority of gags fell flat, but while there’s definitely some that are treading water rather than offering laser-targeted wit there’s enough pith and pop-cultural observations that I’m not unconvinced that there would have been a fair few zingers did they emanate from another actor’s mouth. Or, because I’m really not comfortable dissing Q, had there been a different orchestration of the recording sessions. The fact is that some of the humour does collapse into wackiness – pointless occasional mooing sounds in the background, the friendly, ever out of reach intra-dimensional gremlin Ike who has a capering cameo in most levels – and this too dilutes the intended acidity of the narrator. I kept expecting to laugh, as all the ingredients for laughter seemed to be there, but somehow it never quite happened.

Quantum Conundrum is, then, that most maddening, saddening breed of videogame – the Almost Success. A solid kernel of admirable intelligence and noble inventiveness is orbited by misfiring tone, ill-suited twitch challenge and seeming arbitrary design decisions that block organic, euphoric player experimentation in favour of unyielding square hole, square peg solutions. I can see the game it wants to be, the game it’s trying to be, the game it almost is. And that upsets me dearly, as sailing close to greatness but falling at critical hurdles always does. I do not come to bury Quantum Conundrum – far from it – but I do lament that it couldn’t quite leap that small but vital gulf between competence and brilliance. It doesn’t cost much, which certainly makes it worth the look even if you don’t go the full distance, but oy, that first-person platforming aspect sure does get in the way of the smart stuff.

In an alternate dimension where there was different playtesting and different voices, I loved Quantum Conundrum rather than merely admired it intermittently. But that I could press a button to go there.

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79 Comments »

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  1. Hardtarget says:

    haven’t played it yet, obviously, but after reading a couple reviews that hit this morning I decided why not and did the pre-order on gamgersgate (with 30 minutes left) which stacked with teh 15% ign discount, so I was able to pick it up for $11.47

    reading more reviews sine then I think i made a ok choice, sounds like a ok but not great game and worth the price I paid, definitely looking forward to checking it out later

  2. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Ah shit, I pre-ordered this I now I’m not looking forward to playing it at all. Nothing annoys me more than a game that almost get’s it right.

  3. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    I feel I should apologise to everybody who was looking forward to this. I pre-ordered it and thus consigned it to mediocrity. This is why I NEVER pre-order anything.

    Sorry.

    On the other hand, it’s the price of 3 beers and packet of salt and vinegar crisps at the local, so not the end of the world.

    Edit: played for about 45 minutes, enjoyed it so far, but the WIT is fair. Difficult second album syndrome?

  4. Discopanda says:

    What a heartbreaking review. :(

  5. Godwhacker says:

    Ah. I should have listened to my impression of the advert rather than my excited friend when deciding whether or not to pre-order.

    If only it were possible to review games before they were released…

    • Om says:

      Yes, if only there was a way for people not to run the risks inherent pre-ordering. Hmmm

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      There needs to be some kind of post-ordering technique, I guess, but I don’t know anything about sales so I don’t know if this is feasible.

  6. Soolseem says:

    It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that yes, that line was repeated on purpose and no, I did not suddenly lose the ability to read.

    • joel4565 says:

      Yeah I read the first line and started the second line and thought I lost my place. Then I got to the 3rd line and was like holy crap maybe I need new glasses. Then I realized I was caught in Alec’s never ending series of P*rtals.

      • Premium User Badge

        SquidgyB says:

        Me too – I kept “auto-reading” the line and couldn’t figure out where I was in the paragraph, so I kept going back to re-read the line. Having only woken up half an hour ago didn’t help either.

        /montypythongumbyman.jpg

      • Enikuo says:

        I did the same and was quite relieved to figure out that I had not suffered a stroke or something.

      • jwfiore says:

        0ith portals.

        Now you’re thinking w0

  7. joel4565 says:

    Hmm. This was a bit of a bummer of a review. I thought this game had potential since I saw the first previews, but I got a bit nervous when news came out that ‘Q’ was doing the voice of the narrator. Not that there is anything wrong with ‘Q’s voice, on the contrary, but it is very recognizable which can be distracting.

    And the repeating audio clues/boss movies get annoying no matter the game. They should really do some kind of loop/death counter.

    //player dies
    player_death++;
    if player_death <= 2
    {
    playsound();
    }

    else
    {
    //let the player the F*ck alone, they just died afterall
    }

    • Godwhacker says:

      I’m sure you can just press ~ or ` and type that in.

      • Nevard says:

        Well you’re wrong because that’s not how a game’s visible console works at all

        • Godwhacker says:

          What are you talking about? That’s how John Carmack made Quake. The whole game is one big macro running in the console. That’s why things happen when you type commands in.

          God, some people don’t know ANYTHING about how computers work

          • LionsPhil says:

            Indeed. It’s why Quake was so easy to mod: just open autoload.cfg in Microsoft Word and use search and replace.

          • Tei says:

            Gameplay not, rendering absolutelly no, but movements where translated in commands, that where appended to a buffer, and latter that buffer interpreted. The console was just a way to insert stuff in that buffer. The menus are implemented in that way, with console commands, so some thing the menu do, you can use in the console too.

            Perhaps making a sound not play in your 3th dead is non-trivial, because every time you die the game is restored to a older state. If you remembers the number of times you have die, is not really restered. I can see how remembering states betwen dead may open a can of worms where a bug happend only the 64 time you die, but not the first 63 times.. making debugging harder. So is not imposible to make things happends differently after a few deads, but may make things worse in some ways.

    • Mctittles says:

      (++playerDeath<3) ? (playsound()) : (let the player the F*ck alone);

      • Premium User Badge

        Carra says:

        Showoff.

      • slight says:

        No, no, no, no, no.

        Shorter code isn’t necessarily more efficient. Code should be written to be clear first and optimised later, after identifying inefficient areas with profiling. The ternary operator is for assigning variables, not for logic flow.

        *phew*, as you were.

        • mispelledyouth says:

          showoff

        • Mctittles says:

          I agree, and was just messing around really. Honestly if I was really coding this it would look like the OP’s code as single line bullshit is just harder to read.

    • SquareWheel says:

      But the voice call wouldn’t be under a player death event, it would be some internal trigger.

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      I really liked this about GTA IV; there were two or three different conversations recorded for long driving sections in missions, so if you die and restart you at least hear something new on the way back.

      • Stephen Roberts says:

        Great now I have to play those missions again and die on purpose. Bloody thoughtful developers!

      • Angel Dust says:

        To be honest I found that rather frustrating. The developers are aware that putting the checkpoint before the boring drive to mission means that the player has to repeat that boring drive if they fail but instead of, I don’t know, just MOVING THE BLOODY CHECKPOINT, they decide to write & record more dialog and since you’ll probably die more than once on some of the mission you’re still going to hear the same dialog again.

        Madness.

        • Sacretis says:

          So this is a really interesting point because it illuminates a core part of the design of GTA IV. There is absolutely no technical reason for not having a checkpoint right as you arrive at your destination. This reveals that (giving rockstar the benefit of the doubt here), forcing you to repeat the driving section is an intentional choice.

          To me, this choice is incredibly important, because it shows how obsessed rockstar was with providing context and emotional impact to their story. I personally find it jarring to jump into a mission after a restart and immediately start shooting. We can pretty much all agree that this is ideal from a frustration standpoint. No one enjoys repeating a driving section/cutscene/conversation after you die. That said, does it have benefits?

          I think, from a game design standpoint, it does. It reminds my why the fuck I am shooting all of these dudes. It reminds me to care.

          What makes this choice so revealing is that rockstar chose to take the extreme effort and time to record extra dialogue in order to alleviate some of the boredom derived from these choices. And for that, I commend them.

          • Premium User Badge

            Sinomatic says:

            If you’ve forgotten who and why you’re shooting in the space of a few minutes then they’ve failed to engage you in the first place. Checkpoints that throw you back to somewhere to force you to slog through an area/spend minutes driving/sit through cutscenes etc before you get back to the fight are bad design that artificially inflate the time and difficulty of a mission. It’s ‘nice’ that Rockstar threw in some extra dialogue to soften the pain, but honestly, not good enough.

            There might be an argument to be made for it on the basis of increasing tension during the mission (knowledge that the consequence of failure results in such a long trek back), but again I’d argue that while it is one way to create tension, it’s not a good way.

            I have no issue with games being difficult, but they shouldn’t be punishing in the sense of taking real time away from me to repeat minutes of game that were of little to no difficulty at all, just to get back to the ‘meaty bit’. Frustration should come from my inability to do something, or because I’m getting my arse handed to me, not because I’m having to complete a forced 3 minute drive for the Nth time.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      After the third time it should just play a farting sound on loop until you finish the puzzle.

  8. Flukie says:

    Guess I’ll have to stay excited as I preordered, but still I’d rather see attempts at furthering different video game concepts than military first person shooters any day.

  9. fuggles says:

    I laughed at Giant Bomb rage quitting their own preview when the game became a tedious string of jumping puzzles:

    http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-quantum-conundrum/17-6251/

    The dialogue is clearly terrible and they have really missed a trick by not letting you fiddle with dimensions outside of set puzzle rooms, which all have dispensers for blocks in them…hey..It’s stylistically a complete portal lift!

  10. trjp says:

    On the repeating dialogue thing – it’s really just sloppy design.

    Often, dialogue will include hints, tips or even fairly essential (what you need to do next) stuff – and so it makes sense to repeat it, in case the player didn’t hear it (same applies to on-screen tutorials and hints).

    When you mix those up with ‘background noise’ – jokes, quips and other comments – you cannot separate those out and so you end-up repeating them. This is a failure of design – you need to differentiate the ‘essential to the game’ content from the background noise at a fundamental level.

    The art of making games playable, guiding the player and all that is fascinating – moreso because 90% of game developers are SHIT at it, than anything else.

  11. TehK says:

    Why would you drink whiskey if there’s fine whisky not far away in that northern part of your island?

    [Edit]
    Come to think of it… it may not be for me after reading “It’s just that it errs more towards reflex challenge than cerebral challenge”

  12. magnus says:

    Funny how an ‘almost but not quite great’ becomes ‘bag of shite’ like some game review version of chinese whispers. Odd and worthy of a faqce-palm, that is. It’s a bit like the difference between a 9 or 10 out of 10 as if a 9 for a game when a 10 was expected makes it the current ‘most dissapointing game of the year’ or at least until the next one. (Big,BIG sigh)

    • MondSemmel says:

      A few notes on that:
      1) This might be a similar effect to the Uncanny Valley. “Almost, but not quite” tends to exaggerate failings rather than strengths.
      2) Expectations obviously play a role, too.
      3) Mistakes and failures in great games break immersion, whereas mediocre games might not be good enough immerse at all. That’s especially apparent in a game with a few excellent and a few terrible aspects vs. a game with only mediocre aspects. That said, depending on which parts were excellent and which weren’t, I would either tend to the former game, or not play either one of them.

    • hosndosn says:

      I agree with this to the point where this review seemed almost crushing (90% negative?) by simply complaining about “5% of polish”. I mean, alright, but… fuck polish. Come on, basic gameplay premise alone is more interesting than nearly every blockbuster gameplay out there. Meanwhile, “polished but dull” games can read like a double thumbs-up when they end with a paragraph that essentially summarizes that it’s the most uninspired same-old man-shooter, ever.

    • Alec Meer says:

      What you’re doing there is taking the word ‘polish’ and using it as an excuse to ignore everything else in the piece. Yes, it’s boundlessly more inventive than the vast majority of commercial videogames, as I say multiple times. It is also very flawed.

      Is your argument that these flaws should simply be overlooked because of its high invention? Cos that seems to me like saying ‘home cooked meals are necessarily better than takeaway food, even if a home-cooked meal is burned and over-salted and vegetables had gone a bit mouldy.’

      That said, at no juncture do I compare the game to the “polished but dull” manshoots (which bore me senseless these days, by and large). I am talking about this videogame’s own merits.

      • LaurieCheers says:

        It’s sad that Kim’s name and the very obvious Portal-esque design have led people to expect this to be a polished Valve-quality AAA title. It’s not: it’s a game that a small team made in a year. (By comparison, Portal took 2 years, and Portal 2 took 4 years.)

        I won’t deny that I was gritting my teeth through some of the puzzles, but we forgive indie games for the kinds of flaws listed in this review all the time.

        • Alec Meer says:

          Hmm, I certainly wasn’t expecting Portal-levels of polish/budget, but comparing it to indie games at large doesn’t ring true to me either – it’s experienced, established devs under a big publisher’s banner after all.

  13. Capernatious says:

    I preordered this game and was looking forward to playing it. I just downloaded it half an hour ago. The laptop I’m playing this on isn’t of the strongest out there, but that didn’t worry me too much. Until I saw the video options. Brightness slider, resolution, subtitles yes/no. That’s it. No windowed mode, no ‘turn nVidia Physx on/off’, no antialiasing. I dug through the .ini files without success.
    I’m putting this game on the shelf for now until a patch comes out that can actually make it playable for me. This sucks. If you have a weaker gaming rig, don’t bother buying this.

    • Soapeh says:

      I’m surprised it’s running on Unreal tech – it really feels like the Source engine but with strangely steep system requirements.

    • AlexV says:

      Also, strangely seems limited to 1920×1080 max resolution. That at least can be fixed in TryGame\Config\DefaultEngine.ini [SystemSettings] ResX, ResY. You can make it go windowed by adding “-windowed” to the launch options, but it won’t let go of the mouse without a fight.

      Even more irritatingly, they aren’t using StartupMovies in the ini files, and I can’t find any way at all of disabling the logos and warnings before the main menu.

      Despite coming out on PC first, it’s definitely starting to give off a slightly console-y niff.

      • Soapeh says:

        It defaulted to 1080 for me but i was able to change up to 1200. Why can’t games just start up at the desktop resolution?

        • Executor32 says:

          This. It’s not 1999 anymore, when nearly all monitors were CRTs and lower-than-native resolutions didn’t always look like dogshit.

  14. magnus says:

    Sour grapes, that is all.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Only played an hour or so, so far, but I’m LOVING IT. Music, art direction oozes charm, puzzles make me stop and think, but I haven’t been blocked more than around a minute. Love the math jokes too, when looking at paintings and on book covers.

    So I haven’t played it as long as Alec, but so far it seems my impression is much more favorable.

    • Premium User Badge

      Museli says:

      Fifty minutes done before I was distracted by foot-to-ball, and I am mostly positive so far as well. The music is completely lovely, and solving the puzzles so far has been extremely satisfying. I’m less enamoured by the gags, although the odd one has raised a chuckle, and I’m not engaged by the narration. It controls pretty well too, after turning down the mouse sensitivity quite a bit. I’d recommend it, insofar as I can after less than an hour of play.

    • rocketman71 says:

      I’m two hours in, and still more than happy with the game.

      The PC part of it, though, lacks a lot of polish. Almost no configuration options: v-sync, motion blur and a bunch of other graphic options that will grind your performance if your machine is not relatively new are set by default, and to disable them you need to go edit the ini files.

      For fuck’s sake, MOUSE SMOOTHING IS ENABLED. Who in his/her right mind uses mouse smoothing in a FP*?. Oh, and no quick save / quick load, which would have alleviated the “I’ve heard this 30 times already” problem, just checkpoints. So in that regard I have to fail Airtight. We may have gotten the game first, but this game has a STRONG console scent. I should have known the moment it started and asked me to click in “start game” before it shows the menu. Damn.

      Edit: oh, and we should kill whoever designed the HUD. And I’m being polite calling THAT a HUD.

  16. The Dark One says:

    six-FIF-teen… from… MAN!..chester

    That doesn’t sound like Q, that sounds like Benjamin Sisko!

  17. ScottHarrigan says:

    I guess this is not the game to convert me to physics puzzles. I wonder how much the Portal similarity is affecting this review though. In comparison to Portal, all puzzle games seem doomed to fail now. I don’t really like Portal, but I can see how it will be the standard, especially for the person who worked on Portal. I wonder how do you feel about Rhythmic Puzzle Games. Because I am far more interested in Rhythm Thief

    http://www.videodetective.com/games/rhythm-thief-and-the-emperors-treasure/795049#.T-NwXbWCp-c

  18. Xocrates says:

    I came very close to pre-ordering, but decided not to because from the trailers I feared this might happen and the pre-order discount wasn’t significative anyway. It saddens me that I appeared to be right.

    Well, we’ll always have Steam sales.

  19. SirKicksalot says:

    Dark Void had some very well designed levels. Dark Void + Kim Swift should be awesome.
    Shame it will never happen.

    • IntelliMoo says:

      A “Twin Sector” 2 + Kim Swift would be interesting too! :>

  20. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Bring on Antichamber.

    • essentialatom says:

      This. With portals and fluffy dimension if you’d be so kind.

  21. DPB says:

    I’m enjoying it, but the save system is extremely annoying. It seems that you have to finish a level in one go if you want to record your progress. If you’re stuck part way through a level and quit you can’t simply resume where you left off, you have to re-do all the level’s puzzles.

    The lack of manual saves wouldn’t bother me if I could resume from the last checkpoint rather than the start of the level.

  22. Etalyx says:

    Wow, this review is completely at odds with how I feel playing the game. Yes, everyone has their own opinions, that’s swell, but I’m just adding my own. Mostly I feel as if the reviewer is picking this game apart as if it were a full price offering. At a mere $15, I expected MUCH less than what I found while playing. You can’t afford to call this an “almost game” when the only thing that will be even remotely like it is Portal 3 in who-knows-how-many-years. If you are a fan of this style of game, your options are either deprive yourself because of a few minor shortcomings or play it and have fun despite them.

  23. Agamo says:

    “it couldn’t quite leap that small but vital gulf”

    A quantum leap, one might say.

  24. kaoswielder says:

    Saves are the only thing that has been annoying me. Else it is a good game. Comparing to Portal is just unfair I think even though the mind behind both have been the same. If the writer had trouble playing with four dimensions at once then maybe he should get out of his Portal dimension and mindset. One of great thing is that the game runs smooth on even an integrated card, lighting and art style are great and the narration at the beginning of the game reminds me somewhat of Dr. Ned/Zed (who also happens to be one of my all time fav video game characters) from Zombie Island DLC opening of Borderlands.

  25. El_Spartin says:

    I enjoyed it. The writing isn’t very good but I was more interested in the puzzles rather than the dialogue so it didn’t really hurt anything except when he would give me hints before I did anything. The puzzles themselves were well done and they didn’t hold back when you had all four (five technically but whatever) dimensions at your disposal. I didn’t like that the cardboard boxes couldn’t be jumped on even though they seemed big enough and the way it got around having a loading screen by using certain doors with frames dropping as the game loads the area was a bit weird, I wouldn’t have minded a quick loading screen there and just let my machine use it’s power on that rather than rendering the game as well. There were definitely issues with seeming solid objects not actually being solid where you thought they were, most notably when you are object surfing and your object clips on the bottom and you fall through it. to your death. The “thing you won’t do cause you dead” text was pretty neat but when you starting failing a section pretty hard you start seeing the same one’s over and over and it loses the novelty.

    There aren’t many video options in this game (There are four resolutions, brightness settings and subtitles) only one of them (1280×720) is widescreen. However, the game isn’t very demanding so this is a major issue, mostly an annoyance. The lack of FOV options may cause issues for some people though.

    One thing I would say the game needs is a puzzle maker or challenge maps. The dimensions and other mechanics allow for very clever puzzles and while the game has a lot of them in it, there is quite a bit of space for more.

    Also, never ask the main menu to “Do a thing”, especially at night.

  26. The V Man says:

    For me, the best part of this game are the visual gags. From the array of comically titled parody books (Timelord of the Rings, Beowatt, War of the Parallel Worlds), to the schematics for various insane devices (plutonium moustaches) and, of course, the paintings. All of these have given me much joy.

    I will concede, much as it hurts, that I don’t feel John De Lancie was the right choice for the Uncle. The images of him don’t line up. I expected a deeper, booming voice or something older and slightly raspy – a with more a Grandfatherly quality about it. Instead I hear a voice that sounds fairly young and hale by comparison, and the dichotomy of presentation is jarring.

    I am enjoying the game though – for what it is. It is certainly mimicking Portal on nearly every level, though I didn’t realise it immediately. I would wonder how much of that is intended, or if it is simply the style of design Kim Swift prefers? It’s hard to say.

    I also think my impression is tempered a bit (and perhaps coloured in both good and bad ways) by knowing this was a game made by 16 people in a year. It’s great to see what they did, but there are times when it really does feel like a short-term project made by a small team. Little things here and there stick out a bit more with that piece of knowledge buzzing in the back of my head.

    In the end it’s not expensive, and if you liked Portal you’ll probably find some enjoyment.

    • Prince says:

      Agreed on all accounts. A good game, but it would have been infinitely better with a Professor Farnsworth voice instead of Q.

  27. RegisteredUser says:

    “It is not a game for the easily-stressed. ”

    If the games we want to play to relax or be engaged reliably cross the challenge-threshold into monitor-at-risk-of-being-smashed, then as you said their balancing/playtesting failed, at least if it applies for the majority rather than the minority of players.

  28. Premium User Badge

    emertonom says:

    How the heck are you supposed to quit from this game? I’ve been alt-tabbing, right-clicking and choosing “close window,” but that doesn’t seem terribly natural. There’s no “quit” option, and alt-f4 doesn’t work. How is everyone else doing it?

  29. eclipse mattaru says:

    As some people have already said in these very comments, this game was made by a handful of people in under a year. To me, the awesome amount of smarts on display as well as the dee-licious visual gags more than offset any perceived lack of polish –I certainly have seen much bigger games being way more broken. In the end the game is flat-out fun to play and I haven’t found any section as frustrating as to ragequit, and that’s all I care about.

    And on the point of difficulty, which is a complaint I’ve seen repeated quite a bit around the internets, as it’s mentioned in the very WIT, I happen to be one of the people whose main gripe with the Portal‘s was that they were too easy, almost to the point of being insultingly so. Quantum Conundrum, in turn, made me work hard to earn my victories, and I really appreciate that; especially in this sad time of hand-holding and glowing arrows and constant overimposed reminders and pussyfoot bosses and 10-hour-long tutorials –and yes, I do include all the jumping puzzles as a good thing, I always thought those have no place in first-person games -and certainly not in first-person games where you can’t see your feet-, but I found them to work A-OK in this one. I’m 4 hours into the game and so far I managed to solve them simply by keeping my cool, and every time I failed one I’m 100% sure it was my own fault. I can’t really complain about the controls, and I certainly wouldn’t call them anything even close to “twitchy” or “unforgiving”.

    tl/dr: Nevermind the naysayers, Quatum Conundrum tops my personal softrend chart with a golden 2! ‘Nuff said.

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