PAX 2011: Quantum Conundrum Exclusive Preview - First Look

Portal creator Kim Swift has us moving through multiple (and fluffy!) dimensions in her latest puzzle platformer.

It has been a year and a half since developer Kim Swift left Valve for Airtight Games, where she was given the offer to lead a team and work on her own project. Following up on an idea that came to her during a stroll to the local bakery, Swift wanted her new game to appeal to a broad audience while still challenging the hardcore gamer--similar to the critically acclaimed Portal. Quantum Conundrum is her team's new venture, a first-person puzzle platformer set in an inexplicably large mansion with themes heavily rooted in science. Your puzzle-solving tool is an IDS (interdimensional shift device) glove that lets you shift dimensions--therefore changing the physics of your environment--as you make your way down to the bowels of the manor.

We're not going to explain any of the solutions in our write-up, but the demo we were shown was a cross-section of the game that gave us a good idea of the types of puzzles we would be dealing with. The basic premise is that you play as a kid who has been dropped off at his eccentric uncle's place by his mom. It turns out that your uncle, Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, is a talented scientist and has transformed his lovely Victorian mansion into a labyrinth of wacky scientific experiments. However, as with all successful experiments, there are bound to be some failures. We're told that shortly after your arrival, there's an explosion, and you learn that your uncle has vanished. Now it's up to you to go find him.

Armed with a glove that will let you shift dimensions, your first order of business is to place a glowing pink battery in a receptacle that lets you switch to the dimension that the battery represents. The explanation behind this is that there are dimensional rifts everywhere, and these batteries make those rifts bigger so that you're able to pull yourself into a parallel dimension. In this particular case it was the fluffy dimension. What this does is transform the entire room, including furniture, into oh-so-soft and light plush (the effect that dimensions have on paintings is hilarious). Throughout the game there's a Looney Tunes-inspired safe that you'll use to hit switches, but it's too heavy for you to pick up. When you swap to the fluffy dimension with the push of a key (or a trigger on consoles), it turns into a lovingly stitched plushie that you can playfully toss around. Some ledges or switches in the room can be just out of reach, and safes are too heavy to move on their own, so by swapping dimensions, you can do some carefully planned redecorating to help you get to the next area.

Each room is a puzzle, and as you go through the retrofitted manor, you'll find other contraptions, like a network of lasers designed to keep intruders out and large vats with switches on the inside. You'll also meet Dolli (dynamic object linear litigation interface) who appears in every room and acts like a giant mechanical puppy that vomits metal safes. Well, she's not actually a puppy, but a large metal smiley face on the wall that conveniently produces safes when you need them. We're told that she was built to clone things, partially because the professor had picked up a furry blue pet named Ike (interdimensional kinetic entity), who eats a lot; to satiate its hunger, Dolli was created to clone food. However, we learn later that Dolli is only adept at cloning inanimate objects and not so much the organic ones. A few character portraits on the wall of the mansion will show you what happened when Dolli cloned the professor's cat a couple of times.

Fluffy dimension!

The next dimension we were shown was the slow-motion dimension, which is self-explanatory. By activating the slow-motion dimension, you can toss objects in the air and run over to the other side to catch them. For more practical purposes, this allows you to carefully time where you want your objects to be, and you can use this in conjunction with the fluffy dimension to toss a safe, activate slow motion, and then hop on the safe to go for a ride. The final dimension that we were shown (there is still one unannounced dimension) was the reverse gravity dimension, where everything that is not tied down will float to the top. Switching to and from these dimensions was simple enough, but as the puzzles get progressively more complicated, you'll need to use a combination of these. For example, you can toss a fluffy safe but switch to reverse gravity to lift the now heavy safe. The key is that it keeps the trajectory and forward momentum--the metal safe will travel much farther than if you were to throw it in plushie form. These safes can also be used as dynamic platforms, so by switching dimensions you can use them to move across chasms or up and down like an elevator.

Judging from what we know of the story and from what we've seen, Quantum Conundrum looks to be a funny, charming, and quirky puzzle platformer that would appeal to gamers of all ages and skill levels. Changing up the physics with each dimension opens up a lot of possibilities when it comes to puzzles and level design, and we're looking forward to seeing what else the professor has stored in his vast intricate network of scientific experiments. We're told the game will have roughly four to six hours of gameplay, depending on your skill level, and will be released in early 2012 on the PC via Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network.

Written By

Want the latest news about Quantum Conundrum?

Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum

Discussion

67 comments
shanethewolf
shanethewolf

This looks great! I love the graphics style!

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

How much do you think this will cost...20$?

Innos007666
Innos007666

It's like Portal but in new look with new ideas.

Dragonslorddieg
Dragonslorddieg

Really Really nice! Genius game is awesome, looks like is going to be hours of solving puzzles, this one is amust buy! Plus graphics look really smooth and clean and the change between dimensions is something new

xaviermf
xaviermf

Fluffy dimension? SOLD! :D

usermikey
usermikey

Looks like a cool new game. Very interesting.

AzatiS
AzatiS

Im all in for it . finally PCs getting some platform love

nitzan_z
nitzan_z

the game looks incredible. but it kinda frustrated me when I saw it will only be 4-6 hours long, and downloadable.

Seto_Akari
Seto_Akari

IT looks kind of good. Might want to check it out.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

I wondered where they'd go after Portal, it's one of the only games out there that remains challenging (every other game seems to be dumbed down nowadays). But good stuff! I saw the title of 'Quantum Conundrum' and didn't think much to it, but after seeing it in action it looks great :D My only fear is that the start of next year looks set to be another November.. This, Starhawk, Twisted Metal... It's begun already :P

sircyrus
sircyrus

I was kindof going like "Hmmm..." until she mentioned and showed off the slow-motion dimension. At that point, "Hmmm...." turned into "Eeeeee!" :D

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

A Portal-esque game by one of the Portal devs? Sign me up!

xgalacticax
xgalacticax

Really nice ideas. Not really my cup of tea though.

Sophia
Sophia

@startman_1999 - I loved Dr. Brain, and yeah it made me think of some old school games that were kind of considered edutainment but straight up math puzzles.

RetroSEAL
RetroSEAL

Kim Swift knows how to think out of the box. I just hope the story is intriguing, and the gameplay (when played not seen) doesn't feel like portal, at all. Save for the reticle.

mishma123
mishma123

Wow its sad to see that so many so called game enthusiasts dont know who Kim Swift is (or also could be an indicator they failed to read the title properly). Anyhow, yes of course its a little bit like portal (alas with no portal gun or any sort of portals.lol) but this should not be suprising for obvious reasons. What I do like is the way her thought processes work. Fluffy dimension hello??? thats friggin funny. I say this has got a lot of potential.

startman_1999
startman_1999

The only thing I don't like in this video is the complete lack of enthusiasm in the narration.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@shrankenhiemer Well what kind of theme should a game center around to make it "sensible" that hasn't already been done to death a thousand times? Look at Portal 2. You can say it's still just about the creation of two portals, but it introduces speed gel, wall jumping, and other stuff. Is Portal 2 still coherent? If so, how is it any more coherent than this game? This game is about physics and the effects of various things on it. Portal 2 is similar in that regard.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

Pardon me for making a cheap point, but this is clear evidence to me that developers aren't just doing the same stuff over and over because they're lazy; they do the same stuff over and over because A) people demand it and B) there isn't really anything original to create anymore. No, I'm NOT saying this game is bad. It actually looks quite fun. But as super-hiro and mentalmetal pointed out, it looks like it borrows a lot from Portal. When an individual responsible for one of the most widely acclaimed and original ideas seems to be retreading old ground, you know it's probably because there isn't any new ground left to tread.

Shrankenhiemer
Shrankenhiemer

It seems like portal, but without a good coherent theme behind it. Portal is a game that's centered around the use of two controllable portals. This game is centered around slowing time, and also making things fluffy, and also probably some other stuff. It doesn't seem sensible enough.

startman_1999
startman_1999

I love logical puzzle games like Portal and this (not hidden objects games). Am I the only one here who's played The Castle of Dr. Brain? The plot of this one is reminiscent of the classic Dr. Brain series. I hope it spawns a genre of games like it.

Crypto145
Crypto145

Did anyone find the screen not being center highly annoying?

super-hiro
super-hiro

I am not that impressed actually. Have to see more to really judge of course, but it looks like it uses a lot of the mechanics from Portal (not a coincidence of course).

PKFRAY
PKFRAY

Just imagine a game like this with a Portal gun! only one word comes to my mind: "PERFECTION"

mentalmetal
mentalmetal

even though i like the idea of the game, the physics, the world which you roam, and the fact that I WILL buy this when it comes out. It feels a little bit too much like the Portal franchise for me to dean this a first of its kind. just looks like a portal game with different clothes on.

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

I was really hoping the first person puzzle genre would open up and it looks like it is slowly but surely. Looks like a hell of a lot of fun! :D

poopinpat
poopinpat

@sleepingzzz oh rly? Didn't see even one sentence that started with "and". A comma does not mark the end of a sentence. It could have been worded a bit better to avoid overuse of that particular word but it wasn't that bad.

Destrond
Destrond

@megakick I know what your saying, that part where she takes the portal gun and opens it on one wall, then shoots it to the one floor so she could reach it looked so familiar...oh wait, no, it just looks like the half life engine...silly me

19Gam3NErD91
19Gam3NErD91

looks real interesting,i hope it turns out as clever and challenging as portal.

sleepingzzz
sleepingzzz

She must of started 50 sentences with "And" when doing this preview. She also sounded like she was bored. She just sounded terrible.

lock445
lock445

This looks fantastic! If it's less than $60 at launch, I might just get this day one if it's got co-op.

RedWave247
RedWave247

@rock_solid Maybe she was tired of waiting for Episode 3, too. =p

paulosouza
paulosouza

Awesome visuals and effects, and the premise is just amazing. Imagine what you can do with 3-4 different dimesions, the puzzles can become extremely complicated, and satisfying to solve =D can't wait for it. Q1 2012, who knows, it might even come before D3 =P

Braveheart42
Braveheart42

Awesome! This looks very well thought out and I'd buy it now if I could! Can't wait! :D

Ovirew
Ovirew

@Metalshin0bi did you even know who this woman was before reading this article? I'm unfamiliar with her. Also, did she work on both Portal games or just the first one? I got a little confused when I was reading through the article.

Nintendo_Fan128
Nintendo_Fan128

This is just the kind of game that catches my attention! Looks creative and fun. I just hope they give it more... "personality", you know what I mean? Something "GLaDOS-like".