I know what you’re thinking, and yes, apparently June is Indie game review month on Meng’s Bizarre Adventure (news to me as well).
The swapper is made by 2 guys in Helsinki under the name ‘Facepalm Games’, from what I hear, the game uses handcrafted assets from clay, though even after playing it, you wouldn’t really have guessed unless told.
Swapper is a puzzle game at its core, though ith as elements of platforming, and many people comment on the Metroidvania style in which it has presented itself, I’d recommend people not get too fooled by this metroidvania style as there is little to no incentive to really return to areas, the map layout instead acts as a hub world for portal style puzzle rooms, self contained little challenges which are there to be figured out, and then left for good.
The story of the game is best left for the player to discover, though I will say that you have crash landed on space station Theseus, and come into contact with what I can only assume is called ‘The swapper’, a gun style device which is able to produce clones of yourself, and allow you to swap between the bodies – this device is the game’s unique feature, and whilst It has been done before, it’s never been done quite this way.
The ship contains many checkpoints which require orbs, these orbs are obtained from the puzzle rooms scattered about the ship, the checkpoints thus act as a forceful measure to make you solve X amount of puzzles in the area before progressing, as well as stop you from venturing into puzzles above your understanding level, the first dozen or so puzzles are made specifically to teach you the gadget, without explicitly actually teaching you anything – this style of teaching is fantastic provided you are smart enough to actually suss out what you’re supposed to be doing, however the game really does seem to throw you in at the deep end and sort of presume you will be able to work everything out.
Puzzles range from hard to very hard and things only get more complicated as more mechanics are added, coloured lights prevent you from making clones or swapping, and later on in the game you will encounter gravity changers which further add to the challenge, this really isn’t a game for children at all, unless we’re talking about nerdball Mensa members.
I touched on the metroidvania style map earlier, I thought i’d mention here that there arent actually any extra ‘powers’ to acquire during the game like I expected, the map is actually very linear despite its branching nature, further proving that the map is simply there as a hub world/interlude between the puzzle rooms.
Its also worth noting that you need to complete virtually all of the puzzles to be able to actually achieve an ending, this seems a little harsh, particularly when the puzzles in the game are so damn hard, the game sort of presents itself in a way whereby you don’t need to solve all the puzzles in order to advance, and yet right at the very end it’ll deny you an ending should you have skipped any (the sort of thing usually reserved for an epilogue, or for completionist status)
The plot didn’t seem all that great, it’s told with a mixture of short ingame cutscenes, computer terminals and whispers from rocks, it all takes a fair bit of effort on your part to put the plot together and without this investment from the player the game quickly begins to devolve into a linear puzzle room experience. This isn’t really a bad thing, however similar ‘puzzle room’ games like portal have managed to do both just fine so it’s slightly disappointing to play a game and honestly not have much of a clue what is happening.
The graphics in this game decent, the game uses a 2.5 style (though it really lacks much depth other than a foreground, midground and a background layer) and the various lighting effects and other little special effects add to the tone and atmosphere of the game greatly.
There is minimal music in the game, I maybe heard some stir up once or twice during the game, and those were nothing too memorable, which is a shame because I feel like some good music would have helped the game a lot, it’s not a horror game after all, so god knows why it felt the need to be so quiet.
The swapper is a great little puzzle game with clever mechanics and nice presentation style, the difficulty does however seem fairly excessive for most of the game, this is further compounded by the fact that the puzzles are all pretty much mandatory to achieve an ending to the story.
It’s also a little more expensive than most indie games of its calibre, i’m honestly not sure i’d value it at £12 but i’d keep a keen eye out for this one when it goes on sale.
Approximate Game Length : ~3 Hours depending on how fast you solve the puzzles
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £7 / £12 = 0.583
Should you play it : It’s a good game for sure, though some questionable design decisions and steep difficulty ramp mar the experience slightly.