Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark Review – It’s All Relative (PS4)
Many of the games that we like to play these days are physics-based. But few games are actually about physics. Enter Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark. From newly-christened developer Italic Pig, it’s the first in a planned set of multiple games, and its main hook is that it’s based on physics, not only in gameplay, but also in its story. But does this translate into a fun game? Let’s find out.
Particles Run Amok
The storyline is this: inside a single atom lies a Particle Zoo, where families can come and observe anthropomorphized versions of different subatomic particles of the Standard Model in their natural habitat. But some unknown, catastrophic event, possibly involving the Strange Quark, has scattered hundreds of these particles. They are now causing havoc wherever they travel, and even places they haven’t. Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark is rife with physics jokes, many of which will fly right through and past most non-physics-geeks’ heads. A lot of the jokes are groan-worthy, and yet clever enough to elicit a chuckle if you know the basics of physics. I played this game with a 7-year-old watching, and naturally he enjoyed the funny shapes and bright colors but didn’t understand the dialog at all.
You play as the titular Schrödinger’s Cat, who for brevity’s sake we will now refer to as simply SC. He’s very much alive in this game, because who wants to play as a dead cat that can’t do anything but suck up subatomic particles? He’s got some wit and charm to him, as he’s a bit sarcastic and (intentionally ironically, I’m sure) almost as clueless about quantum mechanics as your average non-gamer. He’s a character most people will like, and can kick ass when the time comes.
Strewn throughout the levels are these small, colorful creatures called quarks. There are four main types to do battle with: Up, Down, Top and Bottom. You combine these in groups of three in order to craft something to help you in your fight. Up Down Up, for example, will create a missile that you can throw in any direction, while three Bottom quarks combine to form temporary platforms. There are a total of 14 different combinations, varying from personal helicopters to rolling shields to protect you. It’d be kind of tough to remember all of these combos on your own, but helpfully the pause screen shows you all the information you need to create the object you need. It’s a unique twist to the usual puzzle-platformer, one that can get you to think if you don’t want to leech off of the help screen too much.
At its core, Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark is a platformer. What’s cool about each level is that they are randomly generated. This ensures that each play-through is slightly different, but not too noticeably. SC can jump relatively high, but to get anywhere interesting you will need to use some quarks. Most levels grant you enough of them to easily fly/sail/parachute/glide through the area easily, though you may find yourself doubling back to pick up a certain type of quark so that you can progress. The main issue I had with the platforming is that it felt too basic. The environments tended to be static. Perhaps games like Rogue Legacy have spoiled me, but I also expected to be able to drop down thin platforms, something I could not do here.
Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark is a good start to what Italic Pig has promised to be a series of games. There’s decent dialog and adequate (if slightly boring) platforming. Quantum Physics nerds are sure to get some nice laughs out of the jokes tossed into the story, while the rest of us will still laugh at Schrödinger’s Cat’s antics. Using the quarks in the proper order and combining their abilities to solve puzzles and move forward in an area is also pretty rewarding. If the platforming can be made more exciting, Italic Pig could have a hit on their hands.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.