It's always refreshing to be introduced to a game mechanic that you've never quite seen before. It's even better when that game takes said mechanic and elevates it to something pure and sublime, something that, to borrow a cliché, can always be replicated but never exactly duplicated.
In a few ways, The Swapper reminded me of Super Metroid. Not in terms of gameplay (this is a puzzle game, not a Metroidvania), butrather its cosmic setting, similar-looking map overlay, and oh yeah doors that look exactly like those in Super Metroid. It takes some serious gall to create an allusion to such a classic game, since doing so immediately brings to mind thoughts of top quality and legacy.
Luckily, The Swapper can get away with it just fine.
The Swapper (PC) Developer: Facepalm Games Publisher: Facepalm Games Release Date: May 30, 2013 MSRP: $14.99 / £11.99 / €13.99
The Swapper's plot begins as a seemingly standard space story complete with a mysteriously vague stranger talking nonsense about who knows what. It quickly turns into a philosophical debate about metaphysics that, despite its complex ideas, is surprisingly easy to follow. It seems a bit strange and obtuse at first, but as the pieces fall into place the story becomes one of the most thought-provoking and interesting stories in a long time.
The classic mind-body problem is debated and yet, at the same time, remains so brilliantly relevant to the game's central mechanic that it still blows me away. Rarely does a serious discussion of philosophy tie so flawlessly into a game's mechanics that it just makes so much damn sense. The story and discussion don't feel out of place, forced, or at all poorly done.
It definitely helps that the writing is incredibly solid all throughout The Swapper. The story unfolds through conversations with the stranger as well as through memory terminals scattered around the map. These terminals will slowly reveal the history of what has happened, and even give some insight into the current predicament.
The voice acting is likewise great, providing very believable voices and delivering charming, yet eerie lines that are sure to make the player a bit uneasy. All of these elements culminate at the very end of the game to create one of the best videogame endings I've had the pleasure of experiencing. Even thinking about it now gives me chills.
The main mechanic in The Swapper revolves around the aptly named Swapper gun that the main character wields. This gun allows players to not only create up to four clones of themselves with the right-mouse button, but to then "swap" to any one of the clones in range, taking direct control of them by firing a beam at them with the left mouse button. The trick is that each clone exactly mirrors the player; if the player moves left four steps, so does each and every clone.
There are some tricky maneuvers to be pulled off with the Swapper, but luckily time slows down to a crawl while attempting to place a clone with the gun. There's something oddly satisfying about falling hundreds of feet, only to slow down time, create a clone just above the ground, and instantly switch to it right before the "previous you" falls to his death and crumbles. And yet, at the same time, it's a bit harrowing to see the body you just inhabited die right before your eyes.
Colored lights within the puzzles prevent the player from performing certain actions: blue lights prevent the player from creating clones while red lights prevent any attempted swapping. They even sometimes combine to make a purple light, restricting any use of the Swapper device whatsoever. The puzzles never wear out their welcome since the game will take most players under five hours to complete, and enough new puzzle elements are introduced to always keep things feeling fresh and challenging.
Puzzles usually consist of putting clones on top of pressure plates in order to open areas or turn off colored lights. The goal of each puzzle is to collect orbs, which in turn allows the player to access sealed off areas of the map. Some puzzles are definitely easier than others, but the difficulty never seems way too hard or laughably easy. Some puzzles will definitely have players sitting at their computer with a hand on their chin and squinted eyes pointed at the screen, thinking hard about the problem they face. Hopefully this is followed by a huge grin, knowing that the puzzle is behind them and they kicked its butt.
Now let's get to the real star of the game: the aesthetic. The Swapper was hand crafted in clay and other common materials, creating one of the most aesthetically unique games I have ever played. The colorful lighting plays well with the hand crafted clay and creates an eerie atmosphere that truly feels alien. This game is absolutely gorgeous in motion. A lot of love went into this style, and it has paid off in spades.
There are certain moments in this game that are sure to take your breath away. There is a strong emphasis on the sense of scale at just the right times to create memorable impressions and feelings of insignificance in the great void of space. Players may find themselves occasionally thinking more about the great emptiness of their surroundings instead of the next puzzle.
This game is beautiful, plain and simple.
I came away from The Swapper with nothing but amazement. From the first time you see the literally hand-crafted visuals until the final moment in the game, which is sure to give you pause for thought, you will be in complete awe. Brilliant puzzles with even more brilliant solutions compliment the philosophical plotline, leaving an unforgettable experience unlike any other.
Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.
VeryImportantQuestion Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.Cosmonstropolis First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious. The Travisionist [img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CNwHpCTVAAA0jLp.png[/img] Sometimes, life is good as a ghost.Mike Wallace You know what, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I hope MGSV fails. It won't train wreck by any means, but I hope it's a huge financial failure. Nothing against Kojima, but #fuckonamiRad Party God MGS V unlocks for me tomorrow at noon.LinkSlayer64 Since my blog using this is basically useless, I still wanted to share it.
CAN YOU DIG IT!?Manchild I don't think you should be able to say #Fuckonami if you are deciding to support their product anyways. I don't often agree with boycotting and am not condoning that, but get your story straight and show a little consistency.CJ Andriessen When the band began to play the stars were shining bright. Now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night. So, Good Morning! Good Morning!IDrawOnTape I'm guessing all rock bands in the world must have stopped making music videos this year, since I read fall out boy's "Uma Thurman" won for rock video of the year. I can only assume there were no other nominees.that's the only rational explanation.RatCasket dtoid discussion has been awfully bitchy these past couple of days. knock it off. its just video games.StripyTrousers Just posted my first Dtoid Community blog. Hello all!ChillyBilly Good Morning Good Morning
We've talked the whole night through
Good Morning Good Morning to you
Good Morning Good Morning
It's great to stay up late
Good Morning Good Morning to youDaniel Lingen #PAX2015Agent9 gonna help my mom move and pack some things. what it means is I'm gonna sit and get yelled at whether I do or do not do something. I can't be the only one with a picky parent that expects nothing less than clairvoyance (-_-)WryGuy If some weren't aware, Phil/Mike Martin needs some help right now but can't access traditional donation avenues like Paypal on his own. I'm offering to be a middle man. I'm also offering to match 50% moving forward right now. [email protected]OverlordZetta At first I thought it would be fun. Then more ideas came, so I kept adding. More! More! But soon it just became stubbornness. Now, as I stare at 10000 words of meandering loon about a subject I'd almost rather be porn, I must question all my life choices.Fenriff Someone on Gamefaqs asking the real questions. How mad would you be if halfway through the Mad Max game he stumbles upon a tribe of kids and the rest of the game is a lighthearted romp?MeanderBot I think, for my first try, I drew a pretty damn good Ryu, if I do say so myself
[img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/edB8UKLdSZep8ZSOYF8u[/img]RexterNathan Really sad that Wes Craven has passed away. He made really fun films.CJ Andriessen R.I.P. Wes Craven. I'll always remember you for A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream and Red Eye. I'll try not to remember you for Music of the Heart.