Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pocket Review - The Swapper

The Swapper is a 2D side-scrolling, puzzle platformer originally released on PC and now being brought to the PlayStation Vita by a team at Curve Studios. The game begins as the protagonist crash lands just outside of an abandoned space station and must venture through it in search of a way home. In order to make it through the station, players will need to hunt down orbs used to unlock new areas. Orbs are hidden in rooms filled with puzzles, and are where the game's primary mechanics comes into play.

In The Swapper, players are able to create clones by aiming a cursor using the right stick to a desired location and pressing the left trigger. Holding down the trigger slows movement and allows for more accurate positioning of a clone. The player can create up to four of these doppelgangers, which will then mimic the player's movements and can be swapped between by targeting a clone and shooting them with the swapper tool. By dropping clones in the proper location, moving them around, and swapping between them, players should be able to maneuver around the puzzle rooms and collect orbs, but it is not as simple as it sounds.

Rooms are often filled with colored lights that hinder progress. Red lights permit creation of a clone, but block swapping while blue lights restrict clone creation, but allow for swapping. Rooms also feature pressure plates, movable blocks, and gravity inverters which further complicate all of the already complex movements required to solve each area. Puzzle rooms start off rather straightforward, but near the end of the game players will have to think outside of the box and use some complex maneuvering to progress. Just like Portal, when I solved one of the harder rooms I felt like a genius, but many of the latter areas just left me feeling like an idiot.

The story is also of interest due to how wonderfully subtle it is. Things are bad on the space station, but the game doesn't come out and tell you directly why that is. The plot unfolds gradually overtime through memory logs and occasional dialogue exchanges. The few characters found during exploration deliver their dialogue without ever hindering the action, which greatly helps this indirect method of storytelling by never getting in the way. This helps add an extra layer of depth to the game's setting, as learning about the fate of the prior occupants of the space station is creepy.

Overall, The Swapper is a great experience, even if things got a little too tough for me a couple times toward the end. It plays wonderfully on Vita, which is great because it's a perfect game to play in small bites. I knew little about this one before picking it up, but I'm glad I did because it really impressed me. I highly recommend it, especially if you're looking for a challenging puzzle platformer that will eat up a half dozen hours or so.

Recommended? Yes. This one was a blast, though some of the puzzles got very challenging toward the end.
Enjoyed By? Anyone who enjoys puzzles should like this. Reminded me of Portal minus the humor.

This game was played on Vita via a PSN code supplied by the publisher.

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