Team 17 are really building themselves quite the menagerie. In addition to their worms, frogs, aliens and the recently acquired sheep from Flockers, the publishers have now got themselves a cat. Not just any cat though; Schrödinger’s Cat – the titual character from a new game from developer Italic Pig (pigs as well!), Schrödinger’s Cat: Raiders Of The Lost Quark.
For a game whose themes are sewn deeply in the brain-busting world of particle physics, Schrödinger’s Cat: Raiders Of The Lost Quark is a colourful puzzle-platformer that appeals to gamers of all ages. The story sees our hairy hero thrust into the chaos-filled universe of the Particle Zoo where rogue particles are roaming free and a mysterious villain is plotting to release the Strange Quark, ultimately bringing an end to all matter. Of course it’s up to our feline friend and the player to save the day.
However, Schrödinger’s Cat, superbly voiced by the fantastic AJ Locascio of Telltale’s Back To The Future game, isn’t left to deal with this problem alone. Guided by the variety of charismatic zoo wardens, SC utilises the powers of a variety of friendly Quarks (which need to be made available in plushie format) scattered around each level to create combos and help him reach his goal. Some of the abilities that can be unlocked include a copter, platforms, missiles and a net in which to capture the rogue particles – Gluons, Bosons, Leptons and more.
One of the most stand-out features of Raiders Of The Lost Quark for me is the control system, which utilises only the keyboard and foregoes mouse input entirely (something the game jokes about at an early stage). Movement is controlled via the standard WASD input and your combinations are actioned with the direction keys, each one signifying a different Quark. A physical attack can also be busted out using the E key, which I honestly found a little awkward to use effectively at times, but key remapping is available.
For the first series of levels, Schrödinger’s Cat is incredibly forgiving and does a fantastic job of guiding and introducing you to the games various mechanics and elements. However, once you pass the Quark Pond, an open area filled with Quarks to test out your combos, the real meat of the game begins. Raiders Of The Lost Quark is very much a puzzle game and with Quarks rationed, you will need to work out which combos to use and when in order to complete each stage.
Each enclosure typically focuses on one enemy type and from the beginning you’ll primarily be battling Gluons on your quest to collect Charm Quarks to unlock the guarded door to the Nucleus. These enemies come in a variety of colours and forms and will steal a single Quark you have collected if you get near them. A single Gluon can be defeated with a swift kick to the chops or with a combo, but players will have to find ways to navigate around large clusters which cannot be defeated – usually with a platform, glide, or chopper combo.
Being both dead and alive means that there’s also no “game over” in Raiders Of The Lost Quark, something you’ll be very glad of as you will often find yourself perplexed by the puzzles presented for quite a while. However, there are a series of environmental hazards that can take Schrödinger’s Cat out, such as green goo, but you will just be returned to the last checkpoint and have to try again. Players can also force a checkpoint restart if they mess up, something I had to do very frequently.
Coming from a background and with a passion for point and click adventure games, it’s no surprise that Italic Pig have done a wonderful job creating vibrant and truly memorable characters and dialogue. The game is rife with humour and the perfect casting means that the terrific lines never fails to fall flat. There’s even a jab at those who like to skip dialogue if you hammer the key enough which I felt was a really great touch.
One area that did disappoint me are the cutscenes, which are not fully animated and instead are shown in a series of stills with a voiceover. It’s not a total dealbreaker but it would be nice to see how this colourful cast interact in full motion outside of the core game. Another issue I found, which is more than likely due to me playing on a pre-release version of the game, is that the save function doesn’t seem to work and I found myself losing my progress when I returned to the game. However, I would expect the latter issue to be fixed upon the games full release (Update: This has now been fixed).
Overall, I found Schrödinger’s Cat: Raiders Of The Lost Quark to be a fantastic and unique take on the traditional platformer genre. It’s an excellent example of how two different genres can be put together incredibly well to create something that feels both fresh and familiar. If you’re a fan of the charm and cast of the Rayman series, but like an extra level of challenge to your platformers, I would highly recommend checking it out.
Schrödinger’s Cat: Raiders Of The Lost Quark is scheduled for release on September 23rd for PC, Mac and Linux via Steam. A copy of the game was provided by Team 17 for this review.