Another review about a 2D Puzzle/Platformer from last year. Enjoy!
A Paladin’s Steam Review: The Swapper. Philosophical Questions Where No One Can Hear You Ponder Them.
- Genre: 2D Atmospheric Sci-Fi Puzzle Platformer.
- Developed & Published by: Facepalm Games.
- Platform: Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
- Business Model: Base Game.
- Copy Purchased by Myself
So, last time I talked about the Swapper was back when I was calling it my favorite game of 2014. It only took me a year and then some to actually do a review of it. But, better late than never, right? Anyway, let’s talk about The Swapper. Which, for some reason, reminds me of some song I heard once, though I can’t place when or where. Odd.
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
The Swapper is your traditional puzzle platformer with its own unique puzzle solving mechanic. It’s about four hours long and paces itself out pretty well. While it might look like a metroidvania game (especially with doors that look like they were inspired by Metroid), it’s only got backtracking to areas and limited exploration mechanics that have echoes of that game style. There’s only a single difficulty level which I found mostly reasonable (and most that have played platformers will find it familiar). There were several puzzles that I found too tricky to solve without getting help. Though I would then find out it’s because my thought process had gotten stuck in a loop and the solution was obvious when pointed out.
The main feature of this platformer is the device called the “Swapper”. This device has two functions. To create up to four clones and to transfer the player between the four clones. While you’re creating a clone, time will slow down so you have time to create clones and/or swap over to them. The clones mirror each other’s actions. So if you jump, they jump and so on. In order to progress through the game, you’ll need to locate a certain amount of “orbs” per area. All orbs are located behind puzzles and can be completed as they’re encountered. There aren’t any other upgrades in the game so your entire focus should be on moving forward.
A lot of these puzzles involve getting around lights that block either the creation of clones or the swapping between them. There’s also puzzles that require split decision making though if you fail you’ll respawn on the last safe ledge. Finally, there’s some gravity puzzles that will attempt to change things up towards the end of the game. Each puzzle is intended to be solved easily but figuring out the right method to creating and swapping between clones can be tricky. Overall, I think the Swapper paces out the difficulty well but there are some that might completely stump you.
It starts out with a quick cutscene featuring the player in an escape pod being launched out of (what you find out later to be) Theseus Station and you’ll quickly end up landing on a nearby planet. You have no idea who you are or what’s going on or why you were launched out of the station. Something terrible seems to have happened or is happening on the station. The plot will be moved along through logs and brief conversations with a mysterious person over the intercom who seems confused by your existence. As the player progresses back onto the station, they’ll find out that that this expeditionary force of scientists and miners were out here trying to gather resources for Earth. However, they had happened upon these alien rocks that they eventually figured out to be sentient rocks. What happens next, well, isn’t pretty. You’ll learn the score through the logs. Much of the game’s mysteries are solved throughout the course of the game but there are some left hanging for you to consider.
With its dark sci-fi themes in the plot, The Swpaper definitely has a philosophical edge to it that’s lightly explored. The most obvious theme is the idea of self and cloning. Is the clone you created with the Swapper you? Or something else entirely? Is using the device ethically wrong? The game makes you consider the questions it raises without really giving a tilt (that I could tell) in any particular direction.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and was satisfied with how the experience ended. It’s dark and moody, without being oppressive, which fits in with the atmosphere and art style. The ending in particular was an excellent last-minute twist without leaving it as a sequel bait. Essentially it suggests that you or may not be a clone created the Swapper.
PC Settings and Audio/Video
As is the normal operating procedure for 2D platformers/puzzle games, the options are on the light side. Mouse & gamepad sensitivity can be messed around with. Fullscreen, V-Sync, Depth of Field, Bloom & light shafts can all be turned on or off. All of the standard resolutions seem to be supported. You can also tweak the refresh rate and FPS cap if you so desire. Unfortunately, the audio in this game doesn’t offer separate sliders and the single slider is just the master volume. Keyboard and mouse can be rebound as necessary.
Visually, The Swapper is an impressive game to look at. Its art was entirely constructed using clay models and the game looks incredibly detailed as a result. The audio design is top notch as well. The soundtrack has a lot of sci-fi ambience and sits in the background while you’re running around on the station.
The Swapper is a traditional puzzle platformer with its own unique game mechanic, so if you’ve played one of these types of games in the past, it’s going to feel very familiar. However, I think the story and puzzle mechanics change things up enough to keep the experience fresh. The difficulty paces itself well though you may run into puzzles that twist your brain a little too much from time to time. It’s a short but well crafted experience and the mystery story about what happens on this space station in the far flung future keeps things interesting. Worth checking out if you haven’t already done so.
Thanks for reading!