Before we even arrived at E3, Quantum Conundrum was the game (for systems that are already out) that I wanted to play the most. When we started our rounds of the Square Enix booth, out first stop was a presentation from the two-person art team of Quantum Conundrum (QC). The brain-child of Portal lead Kim Swift and the 16-person elite dev team of Airtight Games, QC promises to once again revolutionize the first-person action puzzle genre.
During my hands-on time with the PC version of what will eventually be the demo for the game, I first noted that the mouse/keyboard controls were a bit different from what I am used to. Since there is no shooting in the game, the item carrying and interaction button as been delegated to the left mouse button and the two main dimension shifting keys are assigned to “Q” and “E”. Standard Valve game controls have me used to using “E” to pick-up and drop things, so I had a pretty considerably difficult time wrapping my mind around “shooting” to pick things up/interact with levers and switching dimensions with my usual interaction key. For games like Half-Life 2 and Portal I have always preferred the keyboard/mouse control combination to using a game controller, but I think that even though I have Quantum Conundrum preordered on Steam, I’m probably going to do most of my dimension-swapping using an Xbox 360 controller instead. Since there are fewer buttons on the Xbox 360 controller, I’ve played games that have made different uses out of most of the buttons and even though the main dimension swapping buttons were LT and RT, it still felt a lot better than the keyboard controls in their demo configuration.
The E3 demo of Quantum Conundrum is apparently at some point going to be an actual demo available on the various systems that its releasing on, as at a couple points during my playthrough little messages popped up saying that I could have unlocked achievements, etc. had I not been playing the demo. In the part of the demo that I played I was introduced to the Fluffy and Heavy dimensions through various simple puzzles as seen in most of the game’s trailers like throwing a safe in the fluffy dimension, then shifting to normal to break certain windows and alternating between the Normal and Heavy dimensions as a laser passed over four stacks of crates to make sure only certain ones were destroyed to form a line of ascending height so that they could be climbed. In spite of my control issues using the PC controls as they were set-up on the showfloor, playing Quantum Conundrum was a blast and I’m very much looking forward to playing it in full when it comes out on June 21st.
The game’s two art directors were also holding presentations every half hour at the Square Enix booth to show off more in-depth features of Quantum Conundrum. A level about three quarters of the way through the game was shown where all of the dimensions were used in tandem to solve really complex puzzles and it looked superb. One interesting thing that they pointed out is that there is a method to cross gaps that made its way into the game through “emergent gameplay”, meaning that it hadn’t been part of the game’s original design, but came up incidentally during play tests and was so good that they worked it into the game proper. This method involves using the fluffy dimention to throw a safe (or other object) in one direction, and then riding it across gaps by making it “porpoise” (moving up and down in a sine-like wave) by switching back and forth between the normal and reverse gravity dimensions. Seeing all of the wonderful things that will be possible once the basics of the game are covered made me even more excited for the game’s release and I think that this is definitely a title that most gamers should have their eyes on.