The Swapper

10 Overall Score

A fantastic, beautiful experience

Written by on June 12, 2013 in [, , , , ]

It’s rare that a game can really evoke the feel and presence of a well made movie. Its rarer still that a 2D puzzle platformer manages to pull that off. The Swapper builds a minimalist, grim story with a fantastic aesthetic and gameplay to match.

Cloning, like making portals, is a simple but incredibly deep mechanic

The core of The Swapper is just that, swapping. In the first few moments of the story your character gets the ability to create a number of clones that move and jump with you and, shortly after, the power to swap places with those clones. These two mechanics combine to give you a startling amount of traversal ability. The game’s puzzles all revolve around putting the clone you control in a specific position, and become simply devious over time. Nothing ever feels unfair, though. The simplicity of the mechanics make it feel something like Portal; the puzzle may take time to figure out, but it’s all up to you to do it, not some hidden gimmick. 

All of this puzzle platforming takes place in a grimy, futuristic space hulk that feels like it’s part of a Ridley Scott film. Your character explores a long-derelict space station, finding out where you’re from, what you’re supposed to do, and what’s up with the swapper gun you’ve picked up. The less said about the story the better, but it concludes well, and provides a pretty satisfying selection of endings. The real satisfaction in Swapper, though, is in the style.

The Swapper looks gorgeous.

The Swapper is put together through a series of claymation styled animations and backgrounds built from parts. It’s a neat design decision, and, more importantly, it provides a tactile feel to the world of Swapper. With the puzzle mechanics and the constantly shifting nature of your character it could be easy to disconnect from the world of The Swapper; the little bit of grit on the character model and the environments really works to sell the world. I found myself caring far more about the game that I felt I would.

Much of that empathy comes from Swapper’s sound design. The game is minimalist in nature, borrowing thematically from titles like Limbo and Portal, but the game sells itself well. The empty corridors and passages your character explores feel appropriately haunting (and the subtle soundtrack works well to that effect), and the few voices you do encounter in the course of the game are made appropriately resonant because of this. It’s hard to put a finger on, but the combination of elements makes the game feel special and, like the graphical design, give it a sense of reality and grit.

Swapper is only about five hours long, give or take your problem solving on the puzzles, but it’s well worth the $15 price of entry. I know we’re all going to be busy for the next few weeks blowing our minds at new consoles and the theoretical games that we might at some point play, but The Swapper deserves your attention in the interim. It’s a fantastic game, and I can see little reason to not experience it.


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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards.

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