Sometimes, introductions don’t come easy. I’ve had this one on the back burner for over two days. I have around 150-350 words to sell you on clicking the link to our review if you’re uninterested. (I’d imagine the curious would do it regardless.) Usually, I try to write about a memory that was jarred loose by my experience with the game or even try to convey an emotional response that I had while playing.
Illusion Labs’ Sway is a charming platform title that had me swinging from platform to platform for hours on end -- literally. It’s special in that it doesn’t rely on any other conventional means to move the game forward. Swinging hand-over-hand is the crux of the game, and also its simplistic beauty. However, there can be a great deal of frustration involved with the mechanic. Sway flirts with redundancy and overly difficult levels. It also doesn’t register every finger motion, which in the end, it really needs to be able to do.
Getting to the next platform can be as easy as swinging the unused arm over to the next platform, but as the game progresses, I found myself having to propel the character through the environment. The good news is that it’s easy to take to the air -- the physics in Sway are consistent and predictable. The bad news is that the character’s body -- and more importantly, his hand movement -- is very unpredictable. Characters function as rag dolls of sorts, so a tiny jump can be a major hassle if the opposing hand just so happens to skirt the edge of the next platform.
The immediate goal of every level is to plant a hand into to a circular endpoint. The friend-rescuing levels have the bonus requirement of finding three keys scattered cleverly throughout. Most levels are fairly straightforward affairs that require little skill. But the game quickly changes from mundane fun to frustrating whenever it comes to these rescue missions, or immediately before them. It’s hard to appreciate Sway when you’ve spent twenty to thirty minutes within the confines of a single, themed level constantly repeating the same jump you’ve missed a billion times. To the game’s credit, there’s a beautiful checkpoint system in place. However, most checkpoints sit in front of massive jumps that require skill, patience, and a lot of luck.
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