Review by Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2012
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Quantum Conundrum

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Smart physics puzzler gets kids thinking about the properties of real-world objects

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Gameplay lets kids apply their understanding of basic physics, including weight, force, momentum, and time.

Cons: Teachers can't track or assess student progress.

Bottom Line: This terrific puzzle game lets kids put their understanding of the physical world to novel and educational use in fun virtual environments.

Quantum Conundrum isn't a game designed for group play, and there is no way for educators to track or assess students' progress. It may end up best deployed as an extracurricular assignment for individual students with an interest in and knack for solving physical problems. Alternatively, students could tackle specific puzzles in small groups, with the person playing pausing to listen to and take suggestions from others. 

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Presented in a first-person perspective, Quantum Conundrum tells the story of a kid who explores a vast mansion filled with strange puzzles. The disembodied voice of his slightly deranged uncle -- who provides help and cracks the occasional joke -- is his only company. As he makes his way through the giant house, he learns how to switch between dimensions that alter the properties of objects in the physical world, making them lighter or heavier than they might otherwise be, slowing down time, and even reversing gravity. This ability is key in solving the many conundrums he encounters, which typically require players to manipulate the environment in strange ways in order to make their way to each room's exit.

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Quantum Conundrum lets students apply their understanding of real physical laws and gives them the power to bend these laws to their will in order to solve virtual puzzles. They'll need to first examine and understand the problem -- which could be as simple as figuring out a way to depress a pressure plate without being there to stand on it -- then work out how to use the abilities at their disposal to create a solution. It can take a good deal of trial and error, and it encourages kids to think outside the box and come up with clever answers.

While kids spend a lot of time doing things in this game that simply cannot be done in the real world, Quantum Conundrum will get them thinking about how physical laws work, and perhaps even how they might be manipulated and exploited within the real world in order to solve problems related to science, technology, and engineering. It's imaginative play rooted in an understanding of the world around them.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

A cartoonish flair and instantly intuitive first-person controls make it easy for kids to jump in, while the interesting story and environments will keep them playing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Puzzles are baked into the game world and force kids to draw on their understanding of real physical laws to discern solutions.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Instructions are provided as new mechanics pop up, but answers aren't given away. Puzzles get hard enough that some kids may need to hop online to see how others solved them.


Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Jon O. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Manitou Springs Elementary School
Manitou Springs, CO
3
A well designed and fun puzzle game

Quantum Conundrum, designed by Portal lead Kim Swift, is a light hearted quirky game of altering physics through its different gloves (heavy, light, etc) in order to puzzle solve. Like Portal, the game challenges linear thinking in order to problem solve the games multi-faceted puzzles. The graphics are beautiful, the sound design great, and Quantum is humorous as well. The only drawback seems to be the somewhat finicky controls which can lead to frustrating moments and restarts.

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