Schrodinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark is a game that, when described, sounds like a novel approach for a 2D platformer, and in some ways, it is. With heavily stylized graphics, a setting unexplored by mainstream games and a unique powerup system used to explore each level, it’s a game that could have worked. Unfortunately, however, its core gameplay and level designs aren’t inspired or terribly engaging, making for a mixed bag of a game that is difficult to completely recommend.
The story takes place in a tiny zoo in the world of subatomic particles, where the creatures inside have gotten loose and are wreaking havoc. The titular cat is immediately summoned to the scene to set things right. From then on, players control the cat, explore numerous surreal levels and interact with some colorful characters.
The game sticks to its initial promise of utilizing various subatomic ideas, including the concept of gluons as the primary enemies that players encounter, and more importantly, quarks, which are strewn throughout each level and serve as the primary means of getting through each level’s obstacles. Quarks come in four different colors, which can be mixed into various combinations of three with the PS4’s shoulder buttons, all of which offer unique abilities. Some are more offensive, like a bomb or a laser-like blast, while others, like helicopters and moving platforms, help the cat get to areas he can’t otherwise reach.
There’s a good variety of quark-based abilities, and the game is nice enough to provide a chart showcasing possible combinations on the pause screen. The titular cat also thankfully controls well while being maneuvered through each sidescrolling level. Where things get a little less enticing are the levels themselves.
While the characters have an appealing stylized look to them, the actual worlds that make up the game’s tiny world fare worse. They simply don’t look very appealing or organic, with a lot of repeated textures and often dull colors. Navigation can also feel monotonous at various points for multiple reasons. Levels can go on too long and checkpoint placement generally feels stretched out.
There’s also the important fact that your quark supply is finite, as you have to find individual ones scattered throughout each level. This isn’t always that big a deal, but I encountered several points where I accidentally fell off a high point I’d previously used quarks to reach back to where I was before, and since they don’t respawn, that meant going back even further to a previous checkpoint.
While the voice acting between the cat and various denizens of this world is solid, the writing could have used some work. There are various nods to obscure scientific concepts that probably won’t appeal to mainstream gamers, and conversations also go on longer than necessary. The numerous bits of dialog that go for humor aren’t terrible, but they rarely hit bullseyes, and like many levels, these humorous exchanges can feel stretched out. Also, in terms of overall audio, the soundtrack is completely forgettable and the numerous cries quarks make when you pick them up get grating fast.
Schrodinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark has a great idea with the quark ability system, but the rest of the gameplay and a lot of the presentation undermines that element’s potential. If the developer ever gets the chance to make a follow-up of some sort, maybe these problems could be addressed. As it stands, though, this isn’t a game that I can fully recommend.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version, which we were provided with.
Schrodinger's Cat boasts a novel mechanic with its quark system, but clunky platforming and unappealing graphics undermine its potential.