A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Quantum Conundrum is a physics-based first-person puzzle game with little in the way of iffy content. There is no fighting, profanity, and sexuality. The player's character can "die" while trying to solve the game's puzzles by getting hit by a laser or falling over a ledge, but the screen simply fades to black when this happens. The game's focus is to have players use their brains to figure out solutions to challenging but fair puzzles that demand clear and rational thought.
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What's it about?
QUANTUM CONUNDRUM, designed by one of the co-creators of the award-winning Portal puzzle games, puts players in the shoes of a kid exploring a vast mansion/laboratory, accompanied only by the disembodied voice of his uncle, who offers a mixture of light jibes and helpful advice. Kids encounter scores of physics-based puzzles as they progress through the house that can only be solved by shifting dimensions. The "fluffy" dimension, for example, transforms objects into light, pillow-y versions of themselves and makes them easy to toss around, while the "heavy" dimension turns things into metal -- which can comes in handy should you need to weigh down a pressure switch or block an energy beam. As the game progresses players will need to quickly switch between dimensions while applying their common sense understanding of real world physics. By asking themselves questions (such as: What will wind do to a lighter object? What sort of item would break a glass window?), kids should be able to noodle out solutions to conundrums that become ever more multifaceted.
Is it any good?
It's almost impossible not to compare Quantum Conundrum to Valve's beloved Portal games, but this new contender can hold its own in that comparison. Its puzzles are wonderfully designed -- ingenious, fun, and fair. Figuring out that you must quickly switch between the fluffy and heavy dimensions to change the weight of a box on a rotating handle in order to spin a crank can result in a kind of satisfaction not easily dismissed. This is a game that makes you feel smart and clever, and that’s a powerful motivation to keep playing.
That said, it comes up a hair short of Portal in the personality department. John de Lancie (better known as Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation) does a fine job portraying the game’s uncle character, but hasn’t been given a script as quirky or as sharp as Portal's. However, this may end up working in the game's favor, since its dialogue remains broad enough for a wide audience. Long story short, it's a top-notch physics puzzler with next to no violence that just about anyone can enjoy. Buy with confidence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about puzzles. Solving them is only part of the fun. Have you ever tried to reverse engineer a puzzle to figure out how its creator made it? Do you think you'd be good at designing puzzles yourself?
Families can also discuss what it's like to play a first-person game without much violence. Can you think of other games besides this one that players view from the perspective of their avatar and that don’t involve guns and weapons? Why do you think such games are so rare?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Science: gravity, momentum, physics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, deduction, solving puzzles
Creativity: developing novel solutions, imagination
- Price: $13.49
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: June 21, 2012
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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