Quantum Error Review

Fatal errors

By Paul Hunter

For years I've been rooting for Quantum Error, an indie title developed by the four-person dev team at TeamKill Media. The team has been great to work with and with the game devoted to their father, a real-life firefighter, I could tell a lot of passion went into making it. It was originally a launch title for PS5, but after a three-year delay, the sci-fi horror shooter has finally arrived. And, it's really unfortunate that the end result is a classic case of too much ambition with too little execution.

Quantum Error attempts to be part shooter, part horror and part cosmic narrative adventure but stumbles in all three areas with a myriad of bugs, hamstrung gameplay and dated design that's hard to swallow in 2023. Even more puzzling is how the developers claimed the game would be taking advantage of the power of PS5 (and they cancelled the PS4 version), but aside from some clever use of the DualSense controller and stable framerate nothing about the game screams current gen. Let's head on into the Quantum Research Facility to discuss the game in more detail, here are three things I didn't like about the game...and one I'm mixed about.

Didn't Like: Confusing Story

The bulk of Quantum Error's story takes place in the year 2109 with you playing as Capt. Jacob Thomas as his team is called into the offshore Monad Quantum Research Facility to deal with a fire that's broken out and to save those trapped inside. Before you reach this point though there are lengthy cutscenes to sit through that quickly jump back and forward in time and feature a variety of characters not properly introduced, making it hard to keep track of the timeline and who's important. Eventually, the story becomes more coherent when the focus narrows to Thomas, a former soldier-turned-firefighter after witnessing the death of his brother, but it never reaches the heights it's clearly striving for.

Quantum Error puts narrative at the forefront of the adventure, and it seems to be where the majority of the budget was spent as there are some cool sequences and good cinematography. It's too bad then that the voice acting is average at best, but at least the motion capture is serviceable. During cutscenes I noticed all kinds of bugs that took me out of the experience, such as choppy animations, scene pop-ins and worst of all, characters had this weird shimmer outline that was very distracting.

After saving the initial batch of civilians, Jacob gets separated from his team which is where the game takes a supernatural twist with mutated zombies and secret experiments. The story takes some rather interesting turns once you finally make it to Mars and later one of Jupiter's moons, but it's a slog to get to those points and the payoff isn't worth the effort. Quantum Error has already been announced as a trilogy, so hopefully the next couple of games can focus their story beats to tell a more engaging story.

Mixed: Frustrating Gameplay

While I struggled to find any elements I liked about Quantum Error, the most ambitious are the firefighter mechanics but even here the game falls short. An early 15-minute tutorial introduces you to several mechanics like using your fire axe to chop down barriers, using your crowbar to pry open doors, venting hot air out of rooms to avoid an explosion when entering, and using the jaws of life to clamp pipes piping hot steam into rooms. These gameplay elements felt fresh to use, but it was frustrating that the tutorial bugged out on me twice, forcing me to reply the entire thing and taking me nearly 40 minutes to get to the next part.

Before the firefighter tutorial, there was another tutorial section focused on gunplay and it was immediately underwhelming. Your starting handgun lacks punch and accuracy, but even more egregious is the brain-dead AI that just stands there and shoots at you, never seeking cover for themselves and rarely moving at all. When they did actually decide to move, I saw all kinds of bugs like enemies getting stuck in the geometry or turning around and aiming the wrong way.

Once the zombie outbreak happens the game takes a sharp stealth turn, but major issues crop up here as well with the stealth mechanics being wholly broken. Enemies have an uncanny ability to detect where you are, even through walls, so they'll always be aware of you rendering a stealthy approach meaningless. Worse, there was one point where I died suddenly with no enemy in sight, which I later discovered were completely invisible enemies cheaply striking me down and forcing me to replay up to 20 minutes of segments I had already completed. To defeat the invisible foes, my only recourse was to wait until I got hit and then blindly fire guns in front of me hoping to down them.

Another constant frustration was the weapon wheel which is cumbersome to use, but worse quite often I'd choose a weapon and equip a completely different one. This constant battle with the weapon wheel was aggravating and got me killed a few times when I wanted to equip my shotgun or lava gun only to swap to a gun that was out of bullets. Also, as if to taunt you, for the first couple of hours I kept on picking up ammo for guns that you don't even acquire until later in the story. And on the topic of picking up items, for some bizarre reason, only your crowbar can open supply crates and requires tedious weapon swapping each and every time.

One highlight is the boss fights as they've clearly been given the most love and attention. Not only do some of the major bosses look cool but they require strategy to defeat. It's a bit of a double-edged sword though as some of the later bosses have multiple phases and if you die during any of them—you guessed it—you'll have to replay the entire lengthy boss battle.

Didn't Like: Level Design and Map System

Quantum Error features plenty of indoor facilities that have remarkably similar layouts and rooms that often make progressing more challenging than it ought to be. I can't count the number of times I died and lost 15 minutes or more of my progress, only to have retread the same indistinguishable hallways and rooms to get back to where I was. All this is exacerbated by the archaic map system that you're only able to view at select terminals around the facility. These maps awkwardly include a colour-coded legend, meanwhile, the actual icons on the map are a different tint and I had to play a matching game.

The checkpointing system in Quantum Error is awful, save points are far and few between and dying forces you to replay long stretches at a time. All enemies will respawn, too, but thankfully items respawn as well. But I did notice that mission progress usually doesn't save, like times when I spent 10 minutes turning the power on in a room then died, and when I respawned of course the power was back out and I had to redo everything. You eventually find Resident Evil typewriter-esque save stations, but as helpful as they were I must have wasted hours backtracking to stations after every little bit of progress to avoid having to redo long stretches over and over again.

Didn't Like: Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

I've already noted several irritating bugs that hindered the game but just to summarize, I encountered everything from several game crashes to weapons not equipping properly to being unable to pick up items to weird stuttering effects during cutscenes. There were also a few cases of quest items not spawning or objectives not properly updating. The core gameplay was already frustrating enough, but when you add in all the bugs it became nearly impossible to enjoy. I strive to complete every game that I review, but I had to hang up my hat early for this one because it was simply too broken in its current state.

The Verdict

This was a tough game to review as I always like to highlight a game's pros and cons, but I really struggled to find anything enjoyable here. TeamKill Media poured their heart into Quantum Error, but the game should not have been released in the state it's currently in. It's one of the worst games I've played this gen which is such a shame given its lofty ambitions.

Final Score: 3/10 - Awful

Quantum Error details

Platform: PS5
Developer: TeamKill Media
Publisher: TeamKill Media
Genre: Shooter, Adventure
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

A key was provided by the publisher.