When considering a genre-based purchase, gamers are often torn between two similar titles. Welcome to Professor’s Game Comparisons. In this installment, we examine two titles in the Puzzle/Story genre: Quantum Conundrum vs. Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut.
Portal 2…there, I said it…now I don’t have to say it any more…but I might.
The above-mentioned Valve classic is my favorite puzzler of all time. In fact, it’s in my top 5 games…period. But we’re not here to discuss that; there are other contenders who are more than worthy to sit beside, if not on the throne. The two titles in this review were both inspired by the classic; one whimsical and the other staunchly serious.
Quantum Conundrum takes players on an adventure through an impossibly large mansion. While the game uses full 3D graphics, players are nevertheless reminded of the quintessential cartoonist, Josh Agle (aka “Shag”). As you make your way through the mansion’s multitude of rooms, you’re confronted with obstacles that impede your exit (sound familiar?). You must call on the power of various devices to manipulate the room’s physics and proceed to the next challenge. Along the way, there are hidden collectibles and Steam achievements to keep things interesting.
The game starts out easy enough, with simple game mechanics explained as a sort of “in-flight” tutorial. You later unlock more complex devices, which you use in consort with earlier skills to navigate more difficult rooms. Although the game relies primarily on puzzle-solving skills, there are a number of scenes that require a bit of twitch reflexes. This can get annoying until you learn the correct timings for such scenes.
Overall, I recommend Quantum Conundrum for all who enjoy a dose of brainpower with their whimsey. Is it on a par with Portal 2? No, it’s a tad short for that; not to mention the cast of characters is way understaffed. But it’s light, funny and you can save your game at any time…which adds a lot of brownie points (about 5 if this were a Haven Review).
Next up is Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut. Like its humorous counterpart, this game takes players on a tour of an interior. By contrast, you play the role of a space explorer, trapped on a massive ship. The only way out is to move from one chamber to another, solving unlikely routines of logic; begging the question: Who in their right mind would build a space ship like this?! The funding alone would set a nation back decades.
As you progress, you are taunted by a ubiquitous female robot (sound familiar?). She’s not particularly snide; rather she delights in rubbing in how alone you are, and how those outside are getting by without you.
In Q.U.B.E., the object is to manually pull, press and turn objects to unlock a path to the next part of the ship. As with Quantum Conundrum, things start off easy, with a single mechanic to master. Soon a second skill must be learned, then a third, fourth and so on. Be on the lookout for secret ledges and holes in walls. These may indicate the presence of hidden rooms (and the Steam achievements that go along with them).
The mood of the game is somber. You feel constrained, yet not claustrophobic. Again, as with Quantum Conundrum, most of the skills needed to win are bound in logic. The maps requiring twitch ability are few and far between, so it shouldn’t be an issue for those otherwise averse to it. Is it on a par with Portal 2? No, the maps are too small and non-contiguous for that. But the mechanics are sufficiently varied to stave off repetition, while delivering numerous, pleasant surprises.
So how do the games in this review compare against the standard (as set by Portal 2)?
Quantum Conundrum: Light and funny puzzler with a solid story. A feeling of loneliness pervades as you move from room to room in a house that’s more museum than mansion. Overall Score: 7/10.
Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut: A serious story with serious puzzles. Although players are presented with clear goals and instructions, the maps themselves are suitably challenging. A fine balance of strategy and tactics. Overall Score: 8/10.