It does all this without relying on overly twitch-based gameplay, or the sort of first-person jumping puzzle hell of a nineties-era shooter. QC’s platforming feels natural, never forcing you to overcorrect for inertia or backpedal to stay on a surface once you’ve landed. There are also plenty of kindly-placed, frustration-averting checkpoints that keep you from repeating the game’s most taxing moments.
But when you actually want to repeat a puzzle, QC has you covered. The game has a level select menu that lets you revisit any challenge you’ve previously beaten. It also tracks your completion speed, how many powers you used, and any hidden collectibles you may or may not have grabbed. QC isn’t chock full of items and secrets, but it has enough to make things interesting. It’s a more than welcome addition to the Portal formula. Players who found those games lacking in replay value will appreciate this incentive to re-tackle a few puzzles.
One place, however, where the Portal games have QC beat, is in the story and humor department. QC’s brand of comedy is amusing, cute, but rather heavy on the whimsy. When it comes to pathos, most any video game villain pales in comparison to GlaDOS, but Dr. Quadwrangle feels like an especially stock characterization. Actor John de Lancie provides a lively voice performance, but this is still your basic cartoon nutty professor. Where he and his impish pet Ike should have motives and character arcs, QC simply doubles down on eccentricity. We know it’s tough to raise anything up to the storytelling bar that the Portal games established, but the game’s writing often felt like cake with too much frosting. QC’s non-sequiturs about graduate students eating ramen eventually had us rolling our eyes.
That’s it though! Gameplay-wise, QC is exemplary. Puzzles never feel “cheap,” and always rely on mechanics that were properly elaborated on, and finishing them consistently put a wry smile on our face, and a feeling of “why didn’t I think of that sooner” in our minds. If you had even a passing enjoyment with the Portal games, or any of the recent influx of indie puzzle-platformers, we can’t recommend Quantum Conundrum enough. It’s a work of craftsman-like quality going for a ridiculously low price point, especially since the game has two upcoming DLC drops planned. High whimsy content aside, fans of new, interesting, brain-bending challenges need to seek this one out.