The Square Enix suite turned out to be a treasure trove of great games at this year’s PAX East. I was pleasantly surprised by the polish of Sleeping Dogs and the hack-y, slash-y fun of Heroes of Ruin, but the real prize, and my favorite game of the show, turned out to be Quantum Conundrum, the newest game from Airtight Games and Kim Swift. Swift was also the designer behind a little-known game called Portal, and Quantum has echoes of that game all over it.
I try to stay away from deliberate Portal comparisons when talking about Quantum Conundrum, but it plays so much like a spiritual sequel to the adventures of Chell and GLaDOS that a few references are inevitable. Like Portal, Quantum is a first-person puzzle game with a heavy emphasis on physics. Quantum also captured one of my favorite aspects of Portal: while most puzzle games make me feel like I’m being shepherded towards one “correct” solution*, both Quantum and Portal made me feel like I was finding a solution where none existed at all. It is a testament to Swift’s direction, as well as the rest of the team at Airtight, that I felt like I “broke” their game whenever I completed one of their challenges.
Quantum Conundrum was easily my favorite game at PAX East, and while it would do well for me to temper my expectations before its full release (something Jason Schreier of Kotaku noted in his preview), I’m still going to crow about this game to anyone who hasn’t had time with it all the way up until its ill-defined summer release.
Title: “PAX East 2012: Quantum Conundrum”
Outlet: Gamer’s Guide to Life
Publish Date: 4/16/12
Amid the usual greys, browns and cover mechanics of many modern games comes Quantum Conundrum, a first-person puzzle game of incredible whimsy and ingenious design.
Developed by Airtight Games and spearheaded by Kim Swift, the creative mind behind the original Portal, Quantum Conundrum is a pleasing mesh of reflexive first-person action and brain-prodding puzzle gameplay.
Players control a twelve-year-old boy who has gone to stay with his eccentric uncle, the inventor Professor Fitz Quadwrangle (what a name!). Unfortunately, the Professor Quadrangle has gone missing and it’s up to the player to find out what happened to him and bring him back.