Like brightly hued boxes full of enticing candy bits, color-matching puzzle games come in all manner of different shapes and sizes. Though it seems rare to stumble upon new variations that are particularly original, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a puzzle game where the pieces I’m trying to match roll around willy-nilly in every direction – as if they loathe the thought of being combined in the first place. Temperamental space marbles are not the only thing that makes QuantZ so unique.
Bursting out of the starting gates with a flash and a bang, Montreal development studio Gamerizon has applied an ample amount of buff and polish to make their debut puzzler shine and glisten. QuantZ is a fully-3D, match-three style action puzzle game that’s bound to put your brains and your computer through their paces. The top-notch presentation sports an unusually crisp cosmic-themed vibe that’s complete with undulating nebula, dazzling lighting wisps, splashy lighting effects, and galaxy-like clusters full of small little worlds. All the beautiful fanciness and mysteriousness of the swirling cosmos simply begs for some kind of underlying tale to be told. Fortunately, the sturdy gameplay holds up reasonably well without one.
The main strategy mode is the first to beckon for your attention, and it’s where you’ll also eventually unlock new play options and additional challenges as you progress. Each level presents you with a 3D cube or similar geometrically shape object that’s plopped down in the middle of the playing field. Small colorful marbles called QuantZ are scattered about in clusters on the different sides of the cube. The basic goal is to clear all of the clusters by launching QuantZ from your arsenal queue to match groupings of four or more same-colored pieces. While the firing line for each currently highlighted QuantZ you’ll launch stays the same, the cube itself is rotated and turned in any direction with the mouse to determine where your shot will land.
A dynamic physic engine makes pieces react in realistic and often chaotic ways, depending on how you rotate the cube they’re situated on. Spinning it too quickly makes all of the QuantZ fly outward before slowly falling back to the surface all scrambled up. This can be a useful maneuver, though you can also use more carefully controlled spins to make pieces jump the corner to a different side and roll them around into position for bigger match combos. The game also packs a few other surprises to keep things snappy. Matching combos around another color will create a fireball that launches into the air. You can momentarily freeze time and rotate the screen around to redirect the blaze to land on and take out pieces of the same color. Other QuantZ freeze all like-colored pieces they come in contact in place, and some can only be cleared by making them erupt.
Meeting certain benchmarks – like clearing full sets of colors within a certain timeframe, getting large combos, and using only a few well-placed shots – earns you achievements and boosts your score substantially. Completing tiers of levels and racking up a high score will unlock more challenging modes to tackle. Puzzle mode tasks you with clearing all of the QuantZ on a given level with a single shot. The cube layouts grow more complex as you go. In contrast to the strategy-focused ways to enjoy QuantZ, action mode is a little more intense. Pieces fall out of the atmosphere at random, and all you can do is rotate your cube to match them up as best as possible.
The downside to the game’s good looks is some older computers may not fare well under the performance strain. To combat this, the game handily detects when your system is running sluggishly and asks if you’d like to change to a smaller resolution. Potential performance issues caused by the game’s slick graphics and physics-intensive nature aside, the gameplay itself doesn’t get truly tough until the final stages. The enhanced difficulty in the unlockable play modes does make up for this to an extent, though it doesn’t completely negate the overly gentle curve in the main game.
QuantZ‘s creative gameplay and fresh twist on the match-three puzzle genre have the potential to keep you locked in its grasp for quite some time. With three distinctly different ways to play, there’s a lot of varied content to dig into. It also boasts an impressively stylish and well-composed presentational flair that goes far above and beyond the call of duty. Prepare for many hours of marble bursting fun.