In our new segment called 60 Minute Hero, I’ll provide my impressions on an hour’s worth of play on a new videogame. For this sixty-minute session, I chose the PC version of ‘Quantum Conundrum’, the recent downloadable title from Airtight Games. Join me as I jump in for a bit of gameplay, and see if I end up hating the ‘Q’ continuum.
Part I: The Hour Begins
OK, so I played an hour or so of this game last week. I should be able to remember how to play. Oh right, some furniture and some lasers. I remember this room. I walked in, broke the window, saw the lasers and looked at the clock, and then realized that I had to quit. I recall thinking, “This game is pretty fun, and I bet I’ll be right back in this room in a few hours.” Almost a week later, I thought, “I think I’ll do a post about ‘Quantum Conundrum’ so that I have a good reason to get some playtime in.”
The triggers on the controller activate the different IDS powers. The IDS devices that I have had access to so far allow me to make objects in the rooms either much heavier or much lighter than I am. What does IDS stand for? It doesn’t matter. This game is so built upon the template of ‘Portal’ (which follows since both games share the same lead designer) that you just expect some zany science. Unlike ‘Portal’, though, there’s a little less rationale for some of the mechanics.
I make my way through John de Lancie’s cartoonish home. John de Lancie, whom I know better as Q from ‘Star Trek’, is my character’s uncle, and his inventive lifestyle has led him to become a disembodied voice that directs me to navigate his crazy, puzzling rooms. Thus far, I mostly use various identical safes to navigate across pits and such. Making the safes light enough to be carried or heavy enough that they’re not either blown away or destroyed by lasers makes sense. Otherwise, they’re identical to the companion cubes from ‘Portal’. So, apart from hearing Q say funny, quirky or even helpful things, the plot of the game is unnecessary thus far.
These games can be intuitive when they’re not being frustrating. I just grab a chair and alternate between making the chair too heavy to move, but strong enough to be a barrier for me from the lasers, and making the chair light enough to move forward towards the lasers. It just seems like the right direction to venture. I imagine that people who like crosswords get that in-the-zone feeling, and can pencil in correct answers unconsciously while I just say, “Forget this crossword crap” and move on.
You can see my progress in this video. Everything is great until I stub my toe and fall to my death.
Part II: Milestone Moment
After apparently hitting some kind of progress milestone in this game, I encounter a new IDS. While two other IDS devicess involve gravity, this one slows time. Typical for these games, the new power turns itself on and off independently of me. There’s actually a drinking bird flicking a time-flowing switch on and off. Once I progress through a room or two of this, then I will have control of the new power. What can I say? These games teach you while you learn.
Again, everything goes great until I can’t stop falling down.
Part III: Expletive Deleted
Finally, I start to feel comfortable using the new time-slowing power. Right on cue, my cell phone starts chirping with text messages, causing a brief drop in focus. Just looking along the right side of the room, it’s clear that I have to throw a safe onto a switch to open the exit. As my brain takes a break, I struggle to get this throw right. The problem is that I have to throw the safe, slow time, grab a box, and block a laser beam. Then, as the safe moves past the first set, I need to move to block a second laser beam. The short story is that, as I mentioned, this is all obviously on the right side of the room.
Too bad I didn’t check the left side of the room thoroughly first…
Part IV: Cell Phone Menace
I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but this game seems to send out a sonic pulse that greatly encourages people you know to text and or call you whenever you play it. Which is funny, because Q mentions being stuck with a pile of cell phones and how inappropriate and stilted texting is, and how despite his miraculous way with technology, he can’t stream anything good to wherever he is currently stuck (or un-stuck).
I stumble through as the hour winds down. I watch the lasers destroy my safes. As my phone begins exploding with phone calls, I half expect to hear a voice say, “Put the candle back.”
Still, it must have been a good hour, as I now only kind of hate Q – mostly because of his tendency to smugly repeat himself whenever I die.