by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Nerds are Cool!
The wildly popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory proved that quantum physics and other nerdy stuff can be extremely funny, but laughing at something is totally different from actually understanding it, right? Quantum physics can be a scary subject to delve into and part of the scariness comes from being bombarded with out-of-this-world terminology and concepts that are too small for the human mind to fully comprehend. That is part of what Schrödinger's Cat: The Raiders of the Lost Quark aims to address: introducing the younger generation to the concepts and terms of quantum physics through a fun platformer featuring every scientist's favourite little pet: Schrödinger's aforementioned cat. We had a chance to get a look at what's inside the box at this year's Gamescom.
The Particle Zoo in which the game is set is described as “an interdimensional subatomic holiday destination where patrons young and old can observe anthropomorphised elementary particles of the Standard Model roaming free in their natural environments.” If I knew what that meant, I wouldn't have had to copy it, but then again, if I'd played Schrödinger's Cat as a kid, perhaps I would have become an astrophysicist and not a videogame critic. Long story short: a catastrophic event causes all the enclosures to open and the particles to roam free in a Jurassic Park-esque nightmare populated by cute, cartoony, misbehaving particles. The only one who can sort this mess out is the Cat in the Hat … ehm … I mean: The Cat in the Box.
A Random World
The game features seven environments, nine chatty characters, eleven particle-based enemies, fourteen quark combos, and a box mode where all you have to do is get out of the box before the scientists opens it for you, resulting in either your safe emergence or painful death. After all, it's 50/50, right?
Multiple solutions will be available to the game's puzzles and it'll be up to you to decide how to untangle the various messes presented to you. Throughout the levels, you will pick up six different kinds of quarks which act as your powers. The up quarks grab you by the tail and fly you up when activated, the down quarks turn into a drill and burrow down. Those two were the only ones we got to play around with, but the game will also feature bottom quarks, top quarks, charm quarks, and strange quarks: the last of which must not me mentioned in civilised company. This does not mean, however, that the game will be limited to six powers as Schrödinger's Cat must use at least three to activate any power and the quarks can be combined to form alternative powers. Combining the up and down quarks, for example, resulted in a powerful Hadouken! being projected from Schrödinger's Cat 's paws, clearing the way of pesky walls in order to progress. During the game, you'll be able to create all sorts of useful things like bridges, ladders, shields, and grenades. These you will have to utilize in order to recapture the leptons, gluons, and bosons running around.
Replay Rests on Fun Factor
The game promises to be a replayable experience through the inclusion of sandbox elements. The promenade, where guests of the zoo would usually stroll around in safety from the barbaric particles below, have become full of monsters and randomly generated puzzles. The more you will explore there, the more quarks you will find. The more quarks you have, the more powers you can use, and the more you can explore. It's a perpetual cycle of never-ending quark collection and exploration, but if you're into that sort of thing, you can go nuts here. Even the enclosures, which form the main plot-line of the game, will be randomly assembled, leading to a different experience every time you play.
Schrödinger's Cat: The Raiders of the Lost Quark was fun to play and even though I only had a few minutes with it, I already look forward to getting my hands on it again. The cute protagonist and witty-kitty humour made for an appealing over-all aesthetic, but whether the game holds water in practice will have to be seen.