Puzzles and puzzle games have a special place in my heart, but they never had a lot of mainstream popularity until Portal came along, based on a project by Kim Swift. Kim and Portal have since moved on, with Portal 2 now wholly in the hands of Valve. Kim, meanwhile, has moved onto her new project which is, unsurprisingly, a physics puzzler. We got our first hands-on time with Quantum Conundrum at GDC, and you have every reason to be excited.
I played through the trial which will eventually be made available to all nearer the game’s release. The trial starts at the beginning of the game, with you wandering through your eccentric uncle's house, discovering his odd puzzles and devices. There’s an endearing humor of a family-friendly quality, which reminds me much of Pixar films. The art supports this, with exaggerated and whimsical designs for everything from objects to creatures and characters.
The puzzles themselves kick in immediately, first introducing you to the basic controls and then soon to the various dimensions. You’re given the Fluffy Dimension first, which allows you to manipulate heavy objects as if they were light and weightless. This is first used to allows the player to move objects into positions where they can be used as platforms. In later, more complex puzzles you will have to use it to lift and throw objects and then quickly swap dimensions to break through glass and other barriers.
Soon after this quick introduction you’re given access to the Heavy Dimension. This dimension was used primarily, at least in the demo I played, for density, rather than actual weight. Safes which would otherwise be obliterated by powerful lasers will easily withstand them in this dimension, and this can be used to carve paths or block deadly traps. As the short trial wound down, a new dimension was added yet again. This one slowed time, and was used to platform across a series of floating objects.
I really had a blast during my time with Quantum Conundrum, and while the puzzles in this early stage were fairly easy, they all felt clever. It’s not hard to see how these puzzle elements could be used to create some complex and challenging experiences later in the game. You can look forward to playing Quantum Conundrum this summer on PSN, XBLA, and Steam.