The Swapper (PS4) Review
- Wonderfully atmospheric real-world graphics
- Fiendish puzzles at times that capture that "Oh yeah!" moment of resolution
- Deep, serious and compelling storyline
Not So Much?
- Longevity and replayability could be a factor
- The mechanics ALMOST wear-out their welcome... almost
The Swapper might have been out for over a year on the PC but, criminally, many have never heard its name. Despite numerous indie awards and huge critical acclaim Facepalm’s platform puzzler still has people going “The what?”. With the launch on the PS 4, PS3 and Vita, courtesy of Curve Studios, perhaps The Swapper […]
The Swapper might have been out for over a year on the PC but, criminally, many have never heard its name. Despite numerous indie awards and huge critical acclaim Facepalm’s platform puzzler still has people going “The what?”.
With the launch on the PS 4, PS3 and Vita, courtesy of Curve Studios, perhaps The Swapper can gain some of the enormous following it so rightly deserves.
I get ahead of myself… let me just step back a moment. The Swapper places you in the shoes of a space traveller responding to a distress beacon from a derelict mining vessel. Upon landing you discover the place deserted. A few simple screen through and you discover a mysterious device – the titular “Swapper”.
As you delve deeper in to the events that transpired aboard the mining vessel you slowly start to piece together what happened via various terminals around the craft. There’s also the mysterious voices you hear in your head as you pass many monolithic stones – not to mention the mysterious “other” that appears to be also loose in the facility.
A lot of platform-puzzle-explorers rely on the strength of the game’s puzzle elements alone. They back that up at times with intriguing spaces to explore and top notch visuals. The Swapper takes a different path. Yes it has some devilishly tricky and rewarding puzzles. Yes it looks fabulous and YES the games world is compelling. Yet The Swapper makes incredible use of story – a very deep and philosophical story at that. This might look like a light-hearted romp, but it’ll have you contemplating some deeper meanings on the term “the human soul”.
As mentioned the game looks wonderful. It’s dripping in atmosphere and the lighting model is superbly utilised. Each item in the game is a found/created real world object. The look fits so well in the game with the lighting offsetting it perfectly. The dank and depressive nature of the visuals draw you in to make this platformer feel very claustrophobic.
So how does The Swapper play? It’s like a mixture of Braid and Castlevania whilst actually being very little like anything else. Around the ships you will find powerful Orbs. Each of these orbs will need to be collected to allow you to progress further in to the ship. Simple enough until they start cropping up in obscure place. This is where the swapper device comes in. This small device will allow you to generate up to four clones. Simple use L2 to generate a clone outline, position it with the right-stick and let go. Voila! A fresh copy of you that will mirror your every action.
This will aid you press multiple buttons… but what about those hard to reach places? Well position your clone as before, then pull on the R2 trigger and your “essence” shifts to the clone allowing you direct control. You can use this method to overcome the numerous puzzles in the game and reach higher locations by body jumping in mid-air.
Add to this certain coloured lights that impact the swapper device. Blue means you can place a clone and red means you can use the shifting technique. Combined puce coloured areas mean you can do neither. Overcoming these obstacles as well as gravity switching pads, floor buttons and anti-gravity all combines to offer a very unique challenge indeed!
Audio wise the game matches its atmospheric look with some great orchestral pieces and some suitably lo-fi sounding voice work. The actual voice work is spot-on but it’s given a slight tinge that makes it sound a little distorted and fuzzy at the edges. The visuals use a similar technique and it works beautifully.
The Swapper offers up a mature and though provoking experience. It gives you some top notch puzzle platforming whilst also offering you something other than the physical puzzles to get your mind around.
The look is unique and wonderfully realised – it looks a little less impressive in static shots but trust me, it oozes deep-space atmospheric tensions.
The game might be a little short for some, but I believe it manages to get what it needs done and finish before outstaying its welcome. Towards the then some puzzles and room mechanics become stale and you can anticipate the answer based on previous scenarios. Like I say, it ends at just the right time.
The ending is a little deflating in some ways, but if you sit and think about it you’ll realise it’s in keeping with the rest of the games mood.
Overall, this has to be one of the most enjoyable titles to have hit the PS4 to date. The fact you can sync your save across all the three platforms is a boon that allowed me to work on some tricky puzzles on the Vita whilst away from the PS4.
All-in-all this game should be top of your “to get list”! It deserves the awards it garnered in the PC and I’m sure there will be a nod or two coming The Swapper’s way this year too.