New entries into the casual puzzle game genre don’t exactly cause the biggest stir within the gaming world. It is not as though everyone starts queuing up outside their local Game store or, in a state of agitation verging on panic, sits at their computer frantically trying to get a pre-order in before it’s too late. For many gamers, most of the titles which make up this cult sub-genre just look frustrating, tiresome, and about as likely to draw them away from the likes of GTA, Batman: AA and Bioshock, as a newspaper crossword or game of Sudoku.
However, although this is how things might appear to the uninitiated, QuantZ is a puzzle game which, with its sleek look and slender simplicity, is so disturbingly addictive; it eats away the hours as effortlessly as any one of those big blockbuster titles. Here's a brief Quantz review.
What is QuantZ?
The concept behind QuantZ is surprisingly straight forward, and thankfully, it’s not one of those enigmatic puzzle games which take about an hour just to learn how to play. The game consists of colour coded spheres – like marbles – which are randomly clustered on the sides of a large cube. Lined horizontally across the bottom of the screen are more marbles – their colour schemes directly corresponding to the ones hugging the cube.
Using a target icon to aim, the idea is to fire (or QuantZ) the marbles from the tube into groups of the same colour which are stuck on the cube. If you successfully combine four or more of the same colour they are vaporised which can sometimes, if another marble of a different colour is nearby, cause it to launch into a sort of shooting star or fireball. This, in turn, can be directed into more clusters of the same colour and, if your reactions are good enough, start a chain reaction which can sometimes clear the entire cube.
So this is the basic idea behind the game. You must burn up all of the coloured marbles as fast as possible and, at the end of each level, you are awarded points for fulfilling certain criteria, i.e. ‘Completed in less than one minute’, ‘In less than 5 Quantz’ etc.
Visuals and Sound
The game itself adheres to an astrological/fantasy type theme. As you move the cursor around it leaves a trail of magical sparkles, completed levels are marked with symbols which light up around a device like something out of Stargate, while the music is oddly familiar. It sounds like an amalgamation of Lord of the Rings and one of those operatic melodies from The Fifth Element. All of it highly melodramatic of course, but that said, it comes together to create an atmosphere which compliments the gameplay surprisingly well.
Without doubt, the game’s slick visuals and smooth physics engine are its best features; a particular high point being the way it is possible to shake, spin or tilt the cube in order mix up the clustering marbles. A vigorous shake will send them flying from the cube like droplets from a wet dog, while controlled jerks are needed for more precise separations. All in all, the sensitivity of the controls and the game’s ability to capture such a massive array of movements, from even the most minor tilt, makes it seem almost as though the cube is sitting in the palm of the player’s hand.
Although you might not think it, QuantZ can make some pretty hefty demands on your system. Puzzle games such as this are particularly attractive for players whose PCs can’t deal with more demanding games. However this can result in lagging which, of course, given that QuantZ’s best qualities come out when the gameplay is seamlessly smooth, undermines the whole experience. The game does have a decent detection system which will suggest the optimum resolution, but it’s a shame QuantZ isn’t a bit more machine friendly.
Apart from this, the only other criticism which could be levelled at the game is regarding difficulty. At first it’s nice to play a puzzle game which can be understood by mere humans and not just graduates from MIT, but Quantz is actually a bit too easy. This is fair enough for the first few stages, but after ploughing through level after level for over an hour with no real problem, it is frustrating how slow the game’s difficulty is to increase.
Overall QuantZ Review
Aside from these minor niggles however - which are easily outweighed by QuantZ’s polished gameplay and slick visuals - the game is surprisingly compelling. It’s one of those titles which you load up and only intend to play for a few minutes, but before you know it a whole hour has breezed by. It can turn into something of an obsessive compulsion, but overall, it’s a very soothing experience – meditative and slightly hypnotic (more practically speaking, it’s also easy on the wallet!).
So if you’re looking for value for money and something a bit different from the more run-of-the-mill commercial game titles, QuantZ is definitely worth consideration. Even for those who aren't overly enthusiastic about puzzle games, QuantZ is a great inroad into the genre. Kids, teens, adults – it is difficult to think of a demographic this game would not appeal to, although, that said, it probably isn't the wisest investment for anyone who's colour blind.