If you think you've got Quantum Error figured out before watching the Future Games Show – Spring Showcase gameplay demo, think again. Teamkill Media's upcoming PS5 shooter may start out as a claustrophobic survival horror game walking in the footsteps of Dead Space, but our glimpse at a new mission set on the open terrain of Jupiter proves this next-gen experience goes far beyond those genre delineations.
The demo begins with multiple monstrosities charging at our hero (firefighter-turned-space-marine Jacob Thomas) in a concerted attack from all angles of Jupiter's hazy, red windstorms, forcing him to fluently switch between weapons while strafing and jumping away from enemy blows like a death-dealing ballerina. The showcase immediately brings Doom to mind, but Teamkill assures GamesRadar+ that the studio "never set out to make a game like anything else", even while acknowledging that one particular IP heavily inspired the early days of Quantum Error's development.
"The one game that we discussed in that first creative session was the Metal Gear Solid series," explains Teamkill. "That is the one franchise that stands the test of time and has left such an impression on us all. The experience of playing those games, how epic the whole story is and weaved with the gameplay, is true genius. It was our goal to capture that same magic. If we had to sum it up, we would say we have a Metal Gear style story in a Halo world with a Dead Space cosmic twist... but no one has any idea of what is actually coming with Quantum Error!"
Teamkill describes Quantum Error as a cosmic-horror game, in which Thomas is sent to a mysterious research facility off the coast of California in response to an emergency distress signal. Naturally, given that he soon ends up 556 million miles from Earth, on the alien-infested planet of Jupiter, things clearly take a turn for the worse. The studio is hesitant to share more narrative details, but tells me that Quantum Error is ultimately an exploration of our "fear of the unknown."
"You have the normal, everyday people in our story, and real life heroes who are engaged in a real life threat with real world enemies, but behind that threat there is this hidden, unknown evil and power. The antagonist has tapped into something that is far beyond their understanding and beyond the capability of mankind to deal with. We have really only given a tiny, basic outline of the game, and have kept this truly epic, heart wrenching, suspenseful, shocking, story of twists and turns a secret."
Another new feature is the ability to switch between the third and first-person perspectives on the fly; this, according to Jones, is indicative of, and catering to, the game's genre-shifting fluidity. When the campaign has Thomas vulnerable and trapped by his surroundings, for example, first-person is probably the best way to experience that horror in all its immersive power. But when the action suddenly becomes thick and fast – as it does during the encounter on Jupiter – third-person might offer more tactical advantages for the player.
"After about 6 months of development, we decided to add a third-person view option," says Teamkill. "Playing the game in first-person feels scarier because everything is right in your face, but you are more agile and faster. If you play in third-person, it becomes a totally different experience because then the fear comes with your slower response and movement. We had a lot of fans comparing our game to Doom 3 and Dead Space, and we felt we could give everyone a similar feel to their favorite games by adding this option. It added a few months of development but we are really excited to offer the options to our fans to choose how to experience Quantum Error."
Regardless of how you're playing Quantum Error, you'll need to think strategically. The eldritch horrors awaiting Thomas, both within the research facility and beyond, are faster, tougher, and meaner than he is, meaning that spraying and praying ain't gonna cut it. In fact, says Teamkill, it isn't even an option.
"You have to think and play smart. Each weapon has specific situations that you want to use it and ammo will be an issue. We have an ultimate weapon, but there isn’t much ammo to be found for it – it is costly to use and must be well thought out and used in only very specific circumstances. Then, on top of strategically using weapons, you will have the threat of fire, smoke, and backdrafts that you must fight as well as saving NPC’s... all while the threat of something unknown and cosmic is lurking in the shadows."
Quantum Error made headlines last year after Teamkill Media revealed that "99.9%" of in-game objects will be physically simulated. You can see that on display in the new demo, in which enemies collapse to the floor like crumpled ragdolls upon death, or – worse – continue to run at Thomas even after he's blown off most of their limbs. Similarly, you might be able to cut through a door with a buzzsaw to progress to a new area, and the studio is even teasing "zero gravity areas where objects can get in your way."
This kind of all-encompassing simulation has been just one dimension to Teamkill's next-gen focus. Though Quantum Error is arriving on PS4, the studio's development approach has always primarily targeted the PS5 (it'll also be available on Xbox Series X/S), exploiting Sony's new hardware to offer the most immersive horror experience possible: "We are building the game to take advantage of the SSD speed to offer a seamless experience with minimal interruption to the player. With the [DualSense] controller, the feel of each weapon will be different. We're also implementing 3D audio to bring the environments to life, and working on a 120 FPS mode that we currently feel pretty positive about."
If that level of ambition for a four-person studio isn't impressive enough, Teamkill has already conceived Quantum Error as a franchise that extends well beyond the end credits of this first instalment. "This is the beginning of a three-part series," it reveals. "So the story will not see a conclusion until the end of Part 3, and the player will be heavily invested at the end of Part 1, and screaming for Part 2. We have Part 2 and 3 named, gameplay planned, and story outlined, but only our family knows exactly what we have in store!"
Indeed, reactions to Quantum Error so far have been hugely positive, suggesting there's an appetite for the game's fusion of old-school schlock and next-gen sheen. We'll have to wait and see whether it hits those expectations, but Jones promises that "everyone is going to be blown away" by the end results. You'll be able to put his claims to the test for yourself, of course, when Quantum Error launches PS4, PS5, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X later this year.