As modern puzzle games go, there is the "Portal" series and everything else. The latest contender to enter into the genre, "Quantum Conundrum," has direct ties to Valve's beloved franchise.
That connection is Kim Swift, who served as creator director on "Quantum Conundrum" for developer Airtight Games and also was involved in the creation of the original "Portal" for Valve. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are noticeable similarities between the two titles - namely puzzles that require you to manipulate the laws of physics and a disembodied voice that guides you on your journey.
Instead of a psychopathic artificial intelligence leading you through a trap-filled lab, "Quantum Conundrum" features your less-murderous-but-equally-insane uncle, Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, leading you through his trap-filled mansion. After a failed experiment leaves Quadwrangle locked inside a parallel dimension, you must use his handy Interdimensional Shift Device to explore the mansion and discover a way to set him free.
The ISD allows you to bounce between four dimensions, each with their own unique laws of physics - fluffy, heavy, slow motion and reverse gravity. To solve puzzles and advance through the mansion, you'll need to use the distinct properties of each dimension to trigger switches and open doors. For instance, you can toss a feather-light cardboard box toward a window, switch to the heavy dimension and watch as the now boulder-like box smashes through the glass. Puzzles in the early going were fairly straightforward, but solving later challenges required quite a bit of thought (and luck). They may not have been as clever as those in "Portal," but the puzzles in "Quantum Conundrum" proved to be worthy adversaries.
Graphically, the cartoony visuals were a perfect fit for the overall vibe of the game. The music was likewise upbeat, and Quadwrangle's narration, despite missing many of the quotable lines that helped make GLaDOS a beloved character, was entertaining.
Even though the two games share some common threads, "Quantum Conundrum" lacks that something extra that made "Portal" so special. Even so, it remains a fun, challenging adventure that should satisfy gamers looking to give their brains a good workout.
Developer: Airtight Games
Available for: XBLA, PSN, PC ($15)
Rating: E for everyone