Like your average conundrum, but with alternate dimensions.
In every circle, there are certain things you should – for lack of a better phrase – just know. Play hockey? You better hope a name comes to mind when people talk about “the great one.” Film buff? Casablanca should ring a bell. For those who play video games, Portal is one such litmus test.
The now classic physics-puzzler is a game that almost every fan of the medium I’ve met counts among their personal top 10. So if I were to tell you this summer is going to bring with it a completely new, but equally brain-bending IP by the talented lead designer of Portal herself – Kim Swift – what would you say? Hey, come back here! You can’t buy it just yet!
Entitled Quantum Conundrum, and due out during the painfully ambiguous “Summer 2012” window, Swift’s latest will take players on a journey that falls very much inside the Portal wheelhouse. Yet while certain tropes make a reappearance, this next adventure is full of a sense of vibrancy and experimentation all its own. Also, you can pick up safes. So… that’s pretty great.
As the nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, you find yourself dropped of at your uncle’s manor-home-laboratory to spend the day… against your will (note: in a game full of fantastical concepts, this is probably the thing I find the hardest to believe). As if that weren’t a bad enough start to your morning, however, you arrive to find out dear old Fitz is missing, lost somewhere in the bowels of his intricate facility. Armed only with an inter-dimensional shift device, you set out to… wait a minute, armed with a what!?
As it turns out, the prof. is something of an inventor, and has managed to cobble together a spectacular swiss army glove that allows you to shift between set of wildly different dimensions, each with their own properties. Conveniently (or perhaps not), it’s by acquainting yourself with these dimensions and bouncing back and forth between them expertly that you’ll get from one sealed room to the next, and – eventually – to your uncle. The things you do for relatives…
From what’s been shown so far, Quantum Conundrum will be rooted both in physics and in time, testing your ability to manipulate objects, and the spaces they (and you!) move in. For example, one introductory puzzle has you discovering the “fluffy” dimension, where everything is a stuffed-animal equivalent of its real-world counterpart. Chairs? Stuffed. Tables? Plush. Bricks? Soft and squishy. Using that knowledge, you’re able to pick up a safe (I told you so!), throw it at a window, and switch dimensions mid-stream to allow its weight to return, shattering the glass, and skipping the part where you body-build for months to pick it up.
And while the aesthetic and theming perhaps hints at a game aimed more towards children – “Portal for kids” – I wouldn’t be fooled. What we’ve seen so far may look more straightforward, but the promise of dimensions that reverse gravity, slow time, and speed up the fall of objects just means Swift has more variables to throw into her not-inconsiderable mixing pot of mind teasers. So while you’re waiting, I’d crack out that copy of Portal – which you do have, right!? – and sharpen your skills. It looks like you just may need to start thinking with dimensions.
Quantum Conundrum is scheduled for release this summer as a downloadable title on Steam (PC), XBLA, and the PlayStation Network. Make sure to open a portal to Gamezebo for more information, more video content, reviews, and interviews as time goes on!