Brandishing a rather fetching title, Schrödinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark (Schrödinger's, henceforth) introduces itself as somewhat of a novel addition to the 2D platforming realm, boasting eccentric stylised graphics and an intriguingly educational premise. Once you dig deeper than these cosmetic oddities, however, you begin to notice elements that prove to make this pussy and his heroic jaunt somewhat difficult to stomach.
Welcome to the Particle Zoo, home to all manner of subatomic particles that have escaped the confines of their cages and begun wreaking havoc around the park. This is where you, the infamous titular feline, come to the rescue. It's your job to explore the seven levels of the zoo using the aid of some seriously wacky NPCs while returning the particle-based baddies to their enclosures.
Schrödinger's doesn't waste any time in firmly rooting itself in physics-based humour, utilising the concept of gluons as the primary bad guys and augmenting clever quark abilities. Quarks are little creatures scattered throughout the environments and act as the main way in which your four-pawed hero will be overcoming obstacles in his path; coming in four different colours they can be combined into groups of three using the bumpers to equip Schrodinger's pet with a number of abilities. These range from the usual navigation aids like moving platforms to spawning helicopters that open up new areas. Meanwhile, others are of the more offensive nature, arming the cat with laser beams and bombs.
The quark system proves to be a beacon of ingenuity here but matches up to its complex inspiration by overcomplicating itself. A total of 14 different quark combinations proves to be a real challenge to remember and you'll often forget what does what; thankfully there's a list of combos in the pause menu to ease your grey matter.
When compared to its complex premise the somewhat meagre complexity of the level design causes Schrödinger's to fall short of the mark. When everything else has its oddness turned up to eleven, it's befuddling to be confronted with basic and often blandly coloured level environments. Sure, 2D platformers aren't renowned for lavish vistas, but the repetitive textures and dull colours on display here feel so out of place in this otherwise vibrant game.
The voice-acting and script-work is astonishingly funny and even more impressive when you realise it's the work of one guy – easy to see why it's stacked a small tower of award nominations for both of these elements. Unfortunately, with many of the jokes building their foundations upon obscure concepts, the punch lines may be lost on the average player that's not a closet Stephen Hawking acolyte. While the conversations between the Particle Zoo denizens and Schrödinger's cat are often humorous, they're also incredibly long-winded; NPC interactions seem to last a lifetime and happen all too often, regularly breaking up the game's pace and causing the enjoyable humour to turn stale quickly.
Schrödinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark's heart is certainly in the right place; for the most part it offers a weird and solid platforming experience in an original format only to become bogged down by bland level design and often unnecessarily complex gameplay mechanics. It's an admirable premise that certainly aims to offer insight and accessibility to one of science's most intimidating concepts, but loses focus and steam in all of the wrong places.