PAX East 2012: Hands On - Quantum Conundrum

We met up with Square Enix on Day 2 of PAX East 2012 to get a hands-on look at some of their upcoming titles. One in particular was Quantum Conundrum, a first-person puzzle game heavily inspired by the Portal series but with an interesting twist. Of course, this isn’t surprising as Portal’s lead designer Kim Swift is at the helm of this project. In the trial we had some time with, we only had a brief bit of demo time with the ISD or Interdimensional Shift Device, your “weapon” of choice in Quantum Conundrum. The ISD, instead of moving cubes or opening wormholes in space, alters the actual dimension you exist in.

The game will include 4 different dimensional choices at launch and includes the Fluffy dimension, which makes everything much lighter and allows you to otherwise lift very heavy objects. The object of feature in the trial was a safe, and a highlight of dimensional shifting was it not only affected the properties of the object but it also affects the physical appearance. Activate Fluffy and steel safes suddenly are pillowed and comfy. Activate the counter to Fluffy, the Heavy dimension, and the safe suddenly appears as if it were carved from a massive iron slab. The Heavy dimension also alters the properties of some items to actually increase their mass. The example we played with included lasers very similar to those from Portal, but powerful enough to destroy a standard safe. Activate Heavy, however, and they can stop the laser in its place. In addition to that, the Heavy dimension also makes typical items such as books or lamps and makes them excellent projectiles to hurl through windows.

One of the second stages we played with included a puzzle where four stacks of 4 safes were suddenly dumped in front of us in front of an upper platform. Our goal was to carefully time going in and out of the Heavy dimension so that a moving laser beam would blow up enough safes to create a series of steps allowing us to progress. Of course, both in this stage and others, you’ll test your twitch skills by picking up a light object, throwing it and quickly shifting dimensions so that you can destroy a window.

The third and final dimension we were able to play with was Slow Motion, which - as name implies - slows down the movement of time. This dimension was only used in one stage and it was automated, but the intent is to navigate certain stages in a platform style by leaping on - in this case - furnature being fired around the stage. When the world slows down, you can leap onto a flying chair or couch back before everything speeds up again. The fourth dimension, Reverse Gravity, was not available in the trial, but we got a thorough look at what to expect with the game.

The game’s disembodied narrator - Professor Fitz Quadrangle, voiced by John de Lancie (Q of Star Trek fame) - provides a bit of comic relief, but most of the time it was just tutorial-style commentary. Granted, this may change later in the game, and Square Enix has promised that the game will feature around 50 puzzles in total and promise around 6-12 hours of total gameplay time, depending on your puzzle-solving skills. Quantic Conundrum is currently looking at a Summer 2012 release on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam.

About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.