Quantum Conundrum PS3 review – Falling off the shoulders of giants

Quantum Conundrum PS3

It’s been discussed to death during the game’s development – “It’s from the girl who made Portal, you know”, “It’s a first-person puzzler – a bit like Portal”, “Doesn’t the Q in the title look a bit like a portal?” – so let’s just deal with it up front. No, this is not ‘the new Portal’, and no, sadly it isn’t up to the standard of either of Valve’s first-person masterpieces. It is, however, a lovingly created brainteaser with more than a few structural similarities, even if overall it lacks the narrative hook and top-of-the-class humour of its forerunners.

Rather than a human lab-rat running through a series of test chambers, each of which contains a physics puzzle, here you’re a young boy (either ten or 12, the game never confirms) running through a series of rooms in the manor of your mad professor uncle, each of which contains a physics puzzle. But instead of orange and blue wormholes to help you on your way, here you have the Interdimensional Shift Device – or IDS to its mates.

Powered by batteries scattered throughout the various rooms, this glove can access four alternate dimensions (each mapped to a shoulder button). There’s Fluffy, where everything looks like cotton wool and weighs a tenth as much as normal; Heavy, where the reverse is true and cast iron is the season’s must-have look; one in which time progresses at a fraction of its usual speed; and Anti-Gravity, which flings objects up towards the ceiling.

These are given to you at various times and in various combinations over the course of the game’s three main sections. The first features only fluffy and heavy, while the latter two are introduced as you go along. In some rooms they’re be ready and waiting to be activated upon entry, whereas in others you have to search for (or figure out how to get to) the relevant battery.

It’s steadily discovering the different possibilities that come with using these in various combinations that’s the game’s greatest joy, and two or three eureka moments along the way reveal the previously unseen abilities afforded you by your gauntlet of science.