It goes without saying that you won’t have played anything quite like Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark before.
For starters, the title alone is quite a mouthful – and possibly the coolest name for a game ever. But does this puzzle-platform-adventure live up to its awesome name or is it more like something the cat dragged in?
You play as Schrödinger’s Cat – a cocky and self-sure feline who rocks up at the strange Particle Zoo in response to a cry for help. The Particle Zoo – a, uh, zoo for particles (what else?) – is usually a fun and family friendly day out, but all havoc has broken loose as the particles have escaped from their enclosures. Only Schrödinger’s Cat can save the day. If you’re up on your physics pop quiz knowledge, then you’ll probably know all about Schrödinger’s Cat and why he is important. If not – well, you just need to accept that the cat is the local hero around these parts. The game tries to be clever by using lots of science puns, and plays around with physics concepts that are far beyond the reach of the average platform game – but don’t think that you need to have a degree in science to get any enjoyment out of the game. Yes, the game tries hard to appeal to the intellectual/”science nerd” subclass among us, but in reality it amounts to not much more than a few nerdy jokes that you might not find quite as funny as someone who graduated with a first class honours in quantum physics.
It’ll still make you laugh, though.
Yes, Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark has a genuine sense of humour. It does try hard – perhaps a little too hard at times, and some of the dialogue/catchphrases feel a bit forced in parts, but overall Schrödinger’s Cat had me giggling throughout, even when certain parts of the game had me feeling frustrated. The voice acting is stellar, and Schrödinger’s Cat himself is voiced particularly well, continually delivering his signature one liners throughout the whole game. It looks nice too; the animations are top quality, and the character designs are quirky and pleasant. The backdrops can get a little repetitive but on the whole are sharp and nice to look at.
The bulk of the game is separated by cut scenes that serve as a means of delivering the story. Whilst platform games often lack any strong narrative, the story here is pretty good, and is delivered well. Schrödinger’s Cat sets itself apart from the crowd by shoehorning in elements from other game genres – in the case of the cutscenes, that means a choice of dialogue options to choose between. In theory it’s nice to have the choice, but the game often makes you cycle through all the conversations before you can move on, so it’s largely redundant.
Unlike a typical platform game, Schrödinger’s Cat isn’t all about running, jumping and attacking. Well, it is about those things, but the platformer elements come secondary to the puzzles. As you travel the 2D environment, you collect cute little guys known as quarks. These quarks are basically elemental particles that can be combined to create physical matter – in other words, you put ’em together to make stuff. There’s four main types of quark: up, down, top, and bottom. The ups can be used to float upwards, downs used to dig down, tops give you a protective bubble , and bottoms create a platform. Each type of quark can also be combined with others to create quite a vast array of tools – i.e. floating platforms, bombs, bouncy platforms and nets to catch enemies. It gives you quite a vast arsenal of tools at your disposal, and the puzzle element of the game comes into play by having to figure out what combination you need to use to traverse the environment.
The puzzles can be a little challenging at times, but in a good way. Schrödinger’s Cat never feels impossible – it’s just a case of using logic and exploring the environment to figure out your route, and utilising your quarks in the best way to get there. It’s refreshing for a platform game to offer a challenge other than some kind of annoying boss fight. There’s a lot to remember though – luckily the game lays out all the combinations on the pause menu, but it means you’re constantly flicking back and forth to remind yourself of what does what. Still, it’s a very innovative system and makes Schrödinger’s Cat feel much fresher than just another side-scrolling platform game.
At any point in the game, you can press in the R3 stick and it’ll respawn you at the last check point. For the most part, the checkpoints are well spaced and you never have to backtrack too much. Being able to kill yourself at any point is useful, especially if you make a mistake with your quarks (i.e. if you make the wrong combination) and need to start over. However, having it on the R3 stick is, if you ask me, a poor choice of control- I pressed it accidentally on a few occasions just by twiddling with the stick. Using one of the face buttons, or the touchpad button on PlayStation 4 would have been a much better choice.
Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark has plenty to offer. For the platforming fan, it offers traditional 2D side-scrolling levels with enemies to defeat and hard to reach areas to get to. For the puzzle fans it offers endless logic problems to solve, all served up in a great looking, funny package – with the art style and comedy reminiscent of something you might see on Cartoon Network. It can be frustrating though – the control system isn’t the best, and there’s perhaps too many quark combinations that it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming to remember what does what. Overall, it’s good fun and it tries hard to be something different from the rest – and largely, it succeeds.