When it comes to really unique and creative indie games, you can usually count on Curve Studios to deliver. They seem to know just which titles to publish and each of them bring something new and different to the table. Titles such as Stealth Inc, Lone Survivor, and MouseCraft have shown that indie games can be very fun and worth taking a look at which is probably why Curve Studios is always on the lookout for the next big indie hit. They might not have to wait very long for their next hit because the latest game coming out from them, The Swapper, is simply amazing.
Developed by Facepalm Games, The Swapper is a narrative driven puzzle game set in outer space. It mainly takes place on what seems like a deserted space station where something has gone amiss. You of course have no idea what is going on and must discover exactly why things are the way they are. The game is very story driven with clues given to you throughout the game by way of informational terminals and a mysterious woman who seems to have a grudge against you. The game is very story driven and the dark, ominous atmosphere compliments it very well, but as important as the story is, the gameplay is equally as important in this game and what unique gameplay it is.
The Swapper at its core is a puzzle game, one that involves quite a bit of platforming. Most puzzles involve manipulation of the environment and being able to either access a certain area or retrieve orbs needed to get to these areas. To do so, the game uses a very unique gameplay device called, the swapper. The swapper device allows you to create up to 4 clones of yourself with the ability to transfer your consciousness into any one of your clones. The clone you transfer too in essence, becomes you. Clones can be killed off and scarified as long as your consciousness stays alive in any one of those bodies. What that means is that pretty early on is that your original body ceases to exist and you’re basically just living from one clone to another. Pay attention to that fact as it actually does play a huge role in the story and plot.
There are some creative uses for the swapper device and your clones too. You can also use your clones to get yo very high places or drop down caverns that would otherwise kill you. Holding down the clone button slows down time so that you can position your clones and then swap to them. That means you can get to places you couldn’t normally get to by just jumping or dropping down to. It’s a very interesting gameplay element and adds another layer to the already unique game.
Graphically, The Swapper looks fantastic. What’s really different about it is that all the art was created using clay models and everyday materials. That means the game has a rather unique look to it and looks a bit more realistic than your traditional CGI generated graphics. The Swapper also has that dark, gritty feel feel to it since it takes place in space on an almost deserted space station. It’s almost like playing through a sci-fi horror flick like the original Alien movie, but without the scary creature hunting you down. The lighting effects in the game too are quite impressive, both on the PS4 and PS Vita. It’s very atmospheric and it works very well for the whole theme of the game.
As for the audio side of things, it really brings the whole experience of being in space, alive. There are plenty of moments where its very silent, except for the sounds of your footsteps or the hum of equipment in the background. There is also this very atmospheric music that sometimes plays which gives the game a calming, yet at the same time, creepy feel.
- Challenge: Fiendish puzzles whose solutions are only ever a few steps away
- Isolation: Classic sci-fi atmosphere inspired by the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris
- Wonder: A world built out of clay
- Mystery: Narrative design from Tom Jubert, writer behind indie hits Penumbra and FTL
The Swapper is such a brilliant game that even when trying to explain it in words, it doesn’t really do it justice. It is such a great mix of story driven elements and gameplay that the game really draws you into its world. The atmosphere of the game is very dark and mysterious and it really gives you a sense that you think you’re all alone on this giant space station with nothing but your clones to keep you company. The whole premise of the swapper device is also quite intriguing, given the fact that these clones you create are living beings that you can just dispose of at a whim or transfer the very essence of yourself into them. That kind of makes you question, what it really means to be alive?
Puzzle fans will surely love the environmental puzzles presented to them as they are very well done with many requiring deep thought and a bit of trial and error. Though the game is heavy in puzzling elements, there’s also quite a bit of platforming and exploration. It does also have that Metroidvania type feel to it, minus the enemies, and your only real threat is just the environment itself.
Overall, The Swapper is one of the most unique games I’ve played. Everything from the graphics to the story telling and the puzzles makes this a very worthwhile game to play. If you do decide to pick this up, you certainly won’t be disappointed whether you play this on the PS4 or the PS Vita. The game looks great and plays well on both.
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