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The Swapper Review
publisher: Facepalm Games
developer: Facepalm Games
|ESRB rating: E10+
release date: May 30, 13
|» All About The Swapper on ActionTrip|
Delving slightly deeper into the realms of indie games, we try to stave off the boredom of yet another scorching and traditionally uneventful summer gaming season. Among some of the various titles we haven’t got a chance to check out is side-scrolling platformer from Helsinki-based development studio Facepalm Games. These guys have resorted to a rather simplistic approach to both design and storytelling. Is there more to it than that though? Let’s find out.
Every space station has a place for growing... certain plants.
Hm, I'd better duplicate myself and think about this.
The game puts you into a space suit and little explanation is given as to why and how you got to an abandoned research facility called Theseus. While exploring the area you begin to understand that the former mining and research teams discovered mysterious electromechanical rocks and asteroids from distant planets. For some reason these rocks were the cause of numerous casualties that eventually resulted in the full evacuation of Thesus. You get more details about these events as you make your way through the facility.
The Swapper may seem as a straightforward and mundane platform game at first, but if you keep at it, the game gets a lot more challenging. You’ll encounter problems that’ll require a bit of brainwork. Thankfully, there’s a handy little device in your possession to help you overcome obstacles. The device can duplicate your body, making it easier for you to get to locations that would otherwise be unreachable. There are a few ground rules here. You can only make four, shall we say, copies of yourself. The good news is that you can transfer from one body to another if the duplicated bodies are in range and it there are no obstacles in between. The bad news is that there are a lot of obstacles along the way and when you move one body, you automatically move other duplicates.
Puzzles frequently involve making duplicates and accessing switches in order to collect special orbs that are used for unlocking doors. This won’t always be easy because things like walls, access gates and energy beams will get in the way. For example, red beams allow you to duplicate an astronaut, but you won’t be able to transfer from one body to another, whereas blue beams stop you from making duplicates, but give you a chance to switch bodies. Different rooms imply different types of puzzles, each more challenging than the last.
The unique gameplay mechanics of The Swapper is likely to keep you occupied for many hours. The beauty is that you’ll end up scratching your head more than once, given that some of the puzzles appear quite complicated, albeit it shouldn’t take you too long to figure out what move to make in order to grab your loot – the aforementioned orbs.
I know my other copies have been here before, or was that me?
Hey, you, no not you, me, I mean you!!
Our compliments go out to the folks at Facepalm Games for setting up a terrific atmosphere that has a dash of subtlety about it. The poorly lit areas and the creepy rocks that were left behind create the kind of tension and mystery you’d hope to experience in any good story. The eerie echoing sound effects and awesome ambient style soundtrack make for half of the atmosphere, so that’s another plus to the team at Facepalm. Clearly, these guys know what they’re doing and it comes across well in the game.
The Swapper is a great game if you want to solve a few mind-teasers. The only thing that might put you off is the disappointing length of the story as well as the poor explanations that are give to the player as to why and how the main character got into this mess. It’s wonderful to see how the developers have stretched one basic concept across various levels mixing it with puzzle-related platform-style gameplay mechanics and the end result is truly outstanding. We were a bit disheartened because the developers didn’t shed much light on what the hell happened. Still, this might be something they’d like to tackle in a potential sequel.
Even though simplicity is at the very heart of this game, it’s a dynamic experience as the player pulls off one unique challenge after another.
8.8 Very Good
A thrilling, well-polished and brilliantly designed puzzle-flavored platformer..
..though slightly on the short side.
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