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PAX 2011: Quantum Conundrum Is A Curious Kid's Dream Come True

| 27 Aug 2011 07:30
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We spend some time with Quantum Conundrum, the new puzzler from Portal co-creator Kim Swift.

OK, we've all been here. Some young relative is driving us up the wall and all we want to do is get a few minutes of sanity. Now, there are a couple of options available: ship the brat off to military school, buy them an insanely violent videogame and sit them in front of the TV, or dump them on the some gullible suckers beloved relatives and only return to pick them up once you're threatened with a call to Child Protective Services. In the case of Quantum Conundrum - the newly announced title from Square-Enix and Airtight Games - that last option looks like it's going to lead to some delightfully crazy adventures.

As detailed yesterday in the initial revelation of the game, Quantum Conundrum is new first-person physics puzzler from Kim Swift, part of the original team that created Portal. It tells the story of a young boy who's been dropped off on the doorstep of his mad scientist uncle Fitz Quadwrangle. Unfortunately, Fitz has gone missing, though he's left behind the Inter Dimensional Shift Device (IDSD), which means that our young hero has to run through his uncle's manor to find out where he's vanished to.

This is no ordinary manor, though. It's filled with crazy ledges, bottomless pits, an automated cloning system (that sometimes malfunctions and literally vomits up new items), and many other bizarre hazards. Basically, this is the type of house that kids dream of exploring and the type that parents have nightmares about.

The IDSD allows players to temporarily shift their surroundings into those of an alternate dimension. The game will feature a total of five different dimensions, four of which were on display during today's demo: There's the normal world, the Fluffy Dimension (where things are cute and fuzzy and only weigh one tenth as much they regularly do), the Reverse Gravity dimension, and Slow Motion dimension.

The game itself is a puzzle platformer, one where players have to figure out how to get items around the environment and then use them to get to the exit. At times this is pretty simple, like when players just have to switch to the Fluffy Dimension in order to lift up a heavy item and move it to another spot. Other puzzles require a bit more skill and planning, like hurling an object, switching to Slow Motion, jumping onto said object, and then riding it across a map by constantly reversing gravity in order to keep it flying through the air.

The game's graphics are pretty charming: It was made with the Unreal Engine, but the manor itself seems reminiscent of a kid-friendly Team Fortress 2 thanks to its cartoony, exaggerated visuals. These graphics work perfectly with the game's relative goofiness, and they also contain some pretty funny stuff.

Additionally, during the demo, I noticed that there was no load time between levels. When I asked about this, I was told that the game would never have load times, which was something that the development team was incredibly excited about.

Based on what was on display during today's demo, Quantum Conundrum, looks like it'll be a genuinely challenging, strange, and fun title. According to Swift, the game is due out for PSN, XBLA, and Steam in "early 2012."

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