Quantum Error is an ambitious new first-person survival horror title developed exclusively for the PlayStation 5 by the independent studio TeamKill Media. Comprised of just four brothers, TeamKill aimed to create an immersive and terrifying sci-fi epic by harnessing the power of Unreal Engine 5 and leveraging the PS5’s impressive next-gen capabilities. Promising cutting edge graphics paired with chilling cosmic mysteries, Quantum Error captured the attention of horror fans when first revealed in 2020. Now after years of eager anticipation, this cosmic horror descent into the unknown has finally arrived. But does Quantum Error deliver on its lofty goals and prove worthy of players’ time and attention?
In this review, we’ll closely examine Quantum Error across all fronts to determine if this independent passion project properly balances innovation and execution. We’ll explore the game’s story and setting, gauging how well it draws players into its eerie world filled with dark secrets. The quality of gameplay and variety of mechanics for both action and exploration will be scrutinized. Additionally, we’ll analyze Quantum Error’s graphical presentation and stability, judging if it takes meaningful advantage of the PS5 hardware. Audio design, accessibility options, and overall polish will also factor into the final verdict.
Quantum Error is commendable for daring to dream big as a modest four-person studio, but ambition alone is not enough. This review will uncover if there is indeed a compelling experience beneath the rough edges, or if Quantum Error collapses under the weight of its own grand goals. Strap in as we dive headfirst into the cosmic horror and search for answers amidst the voids of this enigmatic sci-fi thriller.
Venturing into the Unknown
In the year 2109, Jacob Thomas finds the relatively uneventful career he settled into after leaving the military radically disrupted. Set in a future San Francisco ruled by the mysterious Monad corporation and its ubiquitous AI known as ARGUS, Quantum Error casts players as Jacob, a former soldier now serving as a firefighter. While responding to a routine fire call at a Monad-owned quantum research facility, Jacob unwittingly stumbles upon the aftermath of a catastrophic attack and quickly becomes ensnared in events beyond his comprehension.
Far more than a simple blaze, the facility has become a chaotic warzone plagued by horrifying creatures and reality-defying phenomena. Driven by duty and his own morbid curiosity, Jacob delves deeper into the advanced complex, searching for survivors while hunting for answers regarding what transpired. Corporate greed and unchecked technological ambition appear to have bred cosmic horrors, and Jacob serves as our anchor as the sanity-questioning mysteries continue to compound.
Quantum Error clearly took inspiration from sci-fi classics like Dead Space and Cthulhu Mythos in crafting its disturbed dystopian future setting riddled with corrupt agendas. The foundations prove intriguing, positioning players to dismantle conspiracies and confront threats violating the laws of nature. Regrettably, while the central narrative premise intrigues, Quantum Error stumbles significantly in actualizing the tale through gameplay. Heavy reliance on lengthy exposition-laden cutscenes often slams the breaks on momentum, and the writing itself remains disappointingly laden with clichés and stilted dialogue.
Backstory about Jacob’s past involving a traumatic hostage situation attempts to add depth to the lead, but the drama feels artificially inserted. Key story beats also lack proper setup, diminishing their impact. While Quantum Error should be applauded for its efforts to weave an engaging sci-fi epic filled with secrets to unravel, it ultimately can’t escape the gravity of its own narrative shortcomings. The recipe contains the right ingredients – corporate greed, rogue AIs, repressed memories – yet the storytelling lacks the nuance and care needed to thoughtfully deliver on such ambition.
Outdated and Unpolished Interactions
Quantum Error strives to blend first-person shooting with firefighter rescue gameplay to create a tense survival horror experience. Players can swap between first and third person perspectives on the fly, adding welcome flexibility. In theory, managing your array of specialized firefighting tools while combatting twisted creatures with an imposing arsenal delivers engaging variety. The ambitious vision falters in execution, however, with Quantum Error’s core gameplay functioning as a time capsule to antiquated mechanics.
Whether brandishing an axe or assault rifle, combat lacks impact and finesse. Shooting feels imprecise and disconnected from enemies’ reactions, while melee strikes carry no weight or sense of contact. Even jaw-ripping fatalities on zombies bizarrely invoke no visible bodily harm. This outdated, floaty style of play extends to movement and environmental interactions as well. Jacob clips through walls and objects with no regard for physical presence.
While such glaring lack of polish proves immediately distracting, Quantum Error finds occasional redemption through its novel fireman-centric systems. Having to monitor door heat signatures before breaching rooms, hunting for fire hoses to clear smoke-filled halls, and using specialized tools like saws and prybars to access locked areas modestly enhances immersion. The implementation again falls short though, with needlessly cumbersome equipment swapping hampering the firefighter fantasy.
Puzzles mostly involve mundane objectives like finding numerical codes scattered about environments to unlock keypads. The sparse cerebral challenges present little obstacle or reason for consideration. firefights against mindless AI similarly require no tactical approach. Enemies brazenly stand out in the open unaffected by incoming fire as if transported from an era before dynamic response systems in shooters. Stealth passages annoyingly degrade into trial and error exercises in memorization due to unreliable enemy awareness.
Boss battles fare slightly better in terms of scale and mechanics compared to standard foes, but they rarely put Jacob’s skills to test in an engaging manner. While the weapon variety appears generous on paper, differentiation in function proves marginal. Set pieces hint at exciting crescendos, but the action unfolds mechanically with little sense of escalating stakes or peril. Overall, Quantum Error’s gameplay rarely capitalizes on its potential, instead residing in an underdeveloped state that impedes the intended tension and thrills.
Some redeeming qualities like the ability to uncover hidden loot through exploration provides minor environmental engagement, but not enough to counterbalance the pervasive lack of playability polish. It’s as if the core gameplay expired a decade ago, now held together by duct tape and good intentions. Quantum Error reaches admirably for new interactive frontiers, but its grasp woefully exceeds its undercooked gameplay’s grasp.
A Tale of Two Engines
By leveraging Unreal Engine 5, the developers of Quantum Error were able to craft beautifully cinematic cutscenes that stand shoulder-to-shoulder with AAA titles. Advanced depth of field, motion blur, particles, and post-processing effects imbue these non-interactive sequences with a striking moodiness and graphic fidelity. Character models also showcase incredible levels of detail from skin pores to the intricate patterns on clothing.
Unfortunately this visual splendor evaporates abruptly whenever control is passed back to the player. Beyond the superb cutscenes, Quantum Error’s actual in-game visuals land squarely in last generation territory. While not outwardly offensive, environments adopt a monotonous copy-paste approach of repetitive hallways and industrial architecture without much personality.
Textures frequently appear smeared and fuzzy, especially apparent on character faces during dialogue exchanges where every pore suddenly vanishes. The plastic-like characters conspicuously clash when directly transitioning from a cutscene. While Jacob’s firefighter outfit impresses with ornate detailing during cinematics, his low polygon counterpart in gameplay exhibits none of that craftsmanship.
Quantum Error tries compensating for its limited animations by integrating copious slow-motion interludes. While this cinematic technique succeeds at augmenting spectacle when used judiciously, its overuse here feels like a crutch attempting to disguise unconvincing character and creature movement. Pre-scripted moments like breaching vents unveil especially jarring clipping and animation irregularities.
Fire represented a key means for Quantum Error to showcase new visual benchmarks, yet the flames themselves disappoint. Small repetitive fire textures sporadically cling to walls and floors without spreading organically or illuminating surrounds with dynamic light and shadows. The simplistic fire feels grafted on rather than naturally integrated into the environment.
With its gameplay and cutscene graphics seemingly sourced from different decades, Quantum Error awkwardly straddles generations. Players will need to temper graphical expectations, as only the non-interactive eye candy delivers next-gen marvels while functional visuals pale significantly in comparison. Occasional glaring technical issues like clipping through the floor further betray Quantum Error’s unpolished state and visual inconsistencies.
Audio Caught Between Two Eras
The audio landscape of Quantum Error mirrors the disjointed visuals by blending modern sound design with throwback elements. Voice acting leans heavily on campy delivery and questionable acting choices that seem plucked directly from a 1980s B-movie. Protagonist Jacob Thomas especially embodies the stereotypical gruff action hero voice overflowing with forced bravado. Supporting characters also feel ripped from the era of corny sci-fi with performances ranging from sleepy to theatrical.
Backing up the absurd performances is an equally nostalgic synthesized soundtrack. The moody retro-futuristic tones complement the unsettling atmospherics even if the score itself lacks distinction. More modern audio polish manifests through Quantum Error’s use of 3D spatial sound. Gunshots and creature noises effectively take advantage of directional audio cues lending encounters a sense of 360 degree awareness.
Everyday sound effects like door panels sizzling when heat checks are performed round out the package with expected if unexceptional contributions. Less commonplace sources like microphone input for CPR breathing impressively boost immersion through clever DualSense implementation however. This smart integration of PS5 features heightens certain fireman rescue interactions that otherwise feel mundane.
Unfortunately, the elevated audio innovation of DualSense support contrasts directly against the backwards VO work and score. This conflicting direction seesaws between capitalizing on next-gen capabilities and clinging to outdated techniques. Campiness can certainly charm when done deliberately, but the wavering commitment here lands Quantum Error’s overall audio in an awkward transitional state. While not actively irritating, the sound design fails to score a clear direction between past and future.
Lacking Accessibility but Flashes of Innovation
Quantum Error stumbles when it comes to welcoming all players by neglecting key accessibility options. The most glaring omission is the complete lack of subtitles, leaving anyone hard of hearing completely unable to follow the story. What few tutorials exist also use miniscule text sizes likely to cause frustration. Changing difficulty is only possible by restarting the entire game as no option exists to tweak mid-playthrough.
These oversights disappointingly indicate accessibility was an afterthought to the developers rather than a core pillar. Numerous bugs and glitches also have potential to completely halt progress, an issue magnified for disabled players. Given the small studio scale, meeting AAA expectations around accessibility proves challenging but completely dropping the ball remains unacceptable.
On the bright side, Quantum Error does include appreciable gameplay enhancements through upgradeable weapons and character perks. The plethora of unlockable weapon skins and suits for Jacob add a dash of fun self-expression. New Game+ also rewards completionists with extra replayability, even if the appeal of replaying such an unpolished experience seems dubious.
For those seeking an easygoing experience, Quantum Error provides optional cheats for infinite health and ammo. Integrating such modifiers directly into gameplay hints at a commendable understanding of players seeking power fantasies over hardcore challenges. Small touches like cheating and cosmetics aren’t revolutionary but indicate admiration for players themselves takes priority over purely artistic vision.
If Quantum Error can meaningfully improve its accessibility over time and sand down its roughest edges, the innovative spirit driving its additional gameplay modes and cheats could become a selling point. For now though, its lack of regard for disabled players fundamentally compromises the experience for many. Quantum Error reaches for the stars in its vision but fails to grasp fundamentals needed to allow all astronauts onboard.
A Passion Project Plagued by Pitfalls
Quantum Error aimed admirably high as an independent passion project led by just four developers. Its creative vision promised an unsettling cosmic horror descent fusing cinematic storytelling with firefighter rescue gameplay and pulse-pounding action. Despite noble intent, this sci-fi thriller trips over its own ambitious feet, delivering an experience that too often feels dated, unpolished, and frankly unfinished.
At its core lies an intriguing narrative premise of grand conspiracies and reality-bending threats. Quantum Error clearly took inspiration from sci-fi greats like Dead Space and Alien in crafting its disturbed dystopian future. Regrettably, stilted dialogue and poorly paced storytelling undermine the mysteries instead of deepening investment. Flat voice acting further detracts from the intended ominous atmosphere.
Gameplay similarly crumbles under the weight of its own goals. An awkward blend of FPS gunplay, fireman mechanics, horror stealth, and crate puzzles assembles like a patchwork of incompatible genres duct-taped together. Individually these elements show intermittent flashes of promise, but holistically they form an avatar glitching between identities unsure of its own nature. Dated design philosophies also hinder engagement, with floaty combat, clumsy controls, inconsistent AI, and archaic graphics.
Yet we occasionally glimpse Quantum Error’s earnest aspirations towards innovation and immersion. Clever DualSense implementation enhances firefighter fantasy when checking door heat and performing CPR. Limited interaction with realistic physics and small environmental puzzles lightly tease Quantum Error’s untapped potential. It remains tantalizingly out of reach, always retreating further from the tongue.
For all its stumbled execution, the passion instilled by its small team of creators shows in selective moments. Their audacious effort to deliver a standout single-player narrative experience commands respect. However, reaching beyond their grasp resulted in an experience too often feeling a product of 1999, not 2023. Quantum Error simply tries packing in too many features without adequately developing any to satisfaction.
Diehard sci-fi horror fans willing to battle subpar gameplay and dated design for narrative nourishment may squeeze some redeeming value from Quantum Error’s redeeming qualities. But its profound lack of polish and accessibility hamstring broader appeal. This is one glitchy avatar blindly thrashing in an identity crisis rather than confidently embracing its own strengths. Quantum Error’s developmental voids consume its rays of brilliance, leaving an inconsistent experience. Hopefully the next endeavor by its ambitious creators learns from these pitfalls and reaches closer to their imaginative potential.
Quantum Error bites off more than it can chew, fumbling an ambitious sci-fi thriller amidst dated design and lack of polish. Its narrative vision can't escape the gravity of uneven storytelling and gameplay voids. While commendable as a passion project, execution falls drastically short.
- Ambitious narrative premise with grand conspiracies and cosmic horror elements.
- Clever DualSense implementation for firefighter-themed interactions.
- Optional cheats and unlockable cosmetics add replayability and customization.
- Dated and unpolished gameplay mechanics, including floaty combat and awkward controls.
- Lack of accessibility features, such as subtitles, hampers inclusivity.
- Inconsistent graphics and visual quality, with a stark contrast between cutscenes and gameplay.
- Poorly paced storytelling with lengthy exposition-laden cutscenes that disrupt the game's momentum.
- Stilted dialogue and flat voice acting that detract from the intended ominous atmosphere.
- An identity crisis in gameplay, as it attempts to blend incompatible genres like FPS, firefighter mechanics, horror stealth, and crate puzzles, resulting in an unfocused experience.