I enjoy a game which is too clever for its own good or at least requires you to have a fair amount of general knowledge before committing. A lot of games these days like to loosely base themselves from particular points in history that when played by the educated masses, prove to be a lot more fun because you ‘get it’ and it’s cool to lecture your friends about it. Now before I picked up this game I had no idea what Schrödinger’s Cat was and for the first hour or so playing it I was a little perplexed as to what was going on, it was only after dusting off my old GCSE physics book that it all made sense. To those that claim video games make you violent and stupid, prepare to be brutally schooled and punched in the protons!
‘Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of The Lost Quark’ is the first game created by the “clever, talented and hilarious” folk at Italic Pig and releasing on PS4, Xbox One and Steam. Presented as a quirky 2D platformer, you take control of the famous Schrodinger’s Cat as you roam through the Particle Zoo to recapture all the primitive particles that have escaped during a recent catastrophe. To aid you in the task at hand you pick up tiny little particles called ‘Quarks’, which when combined with each other in various patterns create new particles that help you reach platforms, destroy obstacles and capture the renegade beasts.
Now a quick physics refresher, Schrödinger’s Cat was an experimental theorem by Erwin Schrodinger in 1935 to explain what he called Quantum Superposition. The idea was simple, place a cat into a bunker with a poisonous flask, a radiation detector and a mechanised hammer, which would fall down and smash the flask if any particles in the poison were to decay, thus killing the cat. The detector, like everything bought from B&Q, would have a 50% chance of working, smashing the flask and killing the cat, with an equal 50% chance of it not working and the cat survives. Quantum Superposition is the idea that during this time the cat is both alive and dead, and it’s only when we look and observe whether it is or not, we force natures decision to either kill the cat or let it live at that precise moment, hence “Curiosity killed the cat” … Boom!! Isn’t learning fun? So now you understand the back-story of its protagonist, let’s get back to the game. After learning what the game was actually all about, I decided to start again and actually appreciate and understand the dialogue, which made me realise that this game is really well written. Even in my uneducated state of mind I found it to be very witty and clever, but second time round it was filled with so much sharp wit I thought I was gonna get a splinter.
The Particle Zoo, a holiday park for all things microscopic, is your backdrop for Raiders of the Lost Quark and as a slight variance to the typical 2D platforming title, Italic Pig have added a fair degree of ‘sandboxity’ (made up word) to the game’s landscape. At the start of each level area, (similar to the Oddworld games), you are told how many of each particle currently roams around, you don’t necessarily need to collect all of them but that’s not the attitude of a fearless hero is it! It’s up to you to climb to the top of each area, dive to the darkest depths, destroy walls and use your quarks in the most creative way you can in order to complete each level in the best way possible. This inclusion of a sandbox play style, with the perils of a platform level design, brings with it an added degree of difficulty which is only as challenging as you make it. If you invest all your time into rescuing each endangered particle you’ll find yourself playing the game a lot longer than you would if you were to just do the bare minimum.
Each Quark you pick up is allocated to a particular trigger/shoulder button and it does take a while to get used to releasing the correct ones and not accidentally killing yourself. Luckily the game’s tutorials take up the first few levels and they are particularly handy at getting you used to what each button does, as there may only be 4 quarks to use, but in total there are 17 different combinations, so make sure you’re all studied up before you get in too deep. Even with all the instructions given to you, it can be a confusing experience especially when the quarks you have to use require you do it quickly and/or in mid air, so a slip up will kill you and transport you to a checkpoint that can be a trek away. Whereas the game begins as a really fresh and creative idea, it does unfortunately get stale rather quickly and subsequently it becomes a tad boring. Ultimately for the most part of the game you are tasked with executing the same thing from level to level, so after an hour or so of doing just that, it can get very samey. Sure the game gets increasingly difficult and sometimes complex to keep your brain engaged, however against the too similar backgrounds and familiar level design, the lack of any real variety between levels is a little disappointing, which is a shame because it starts off so strongly.
Schrödinger’s Cat and The Raiders of The Lost Quark is an enjoyable and very well written game, especially for a young studio’s first project. Combining the right dosage of silly gameplay and challenging objectives, Schrödinger’s Cat is an entertaining play through even if it does get a touch repetitive. Too often I found the game’s landscapes too similar to one another, and though the added sandbox playing style did add a degree of innovation to the genre, it wasn’t enough to keep my intrigue up long term. The game’s charm I guess comes from its complicated topic presented in a very simplistic manner, with great voice work and daft gags thrown into the conical flask. This is a series I hope makes a return in the future, and with a few tweaks here and there to the formula, we could have a new 2D star growing amongst the petri dishes.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.