Before the swapper I never really had much interest in indie games. I had watched Indie Game: The Movie which I really enjoyed but had not spent any time playing indie games, except from buying Super Meet Boy and playing it for about 10 min (this is by no means a reflection of the game quality).
After much hype on twitter about The Swapper I decided to give a descent attempt at understanding what the fuss was all about. So I bought the game and committed to finishing it.
I’ve now finished it and here’s what I thought of it.
The story is intriguing. It is set in a deserted space station close to some remote planet. Stones that were under research from the crew have some kind of telepathic power and communicate with you, slowly unfolding the enigmatic story.
The atmosphere is really good, there is a minimalist look which fits the spaceship theme, colours are kept to a minimum and there is a really nice use of lights and darkness. The sound effects is also brilliant at giving that sense of vacuum.
Finally, the gameplay is flawless, you don’t get stuck in awkward situations and the whole cloning/swapping feels great. The “slow mo” when cloning adds a dramatic effect but also, from a game design perspective, makes cloning more accurate when under pressure from gravity.
My main frustration with the game is the fact that you have to finish every single puzzle in order to complete the story.
The way you progress is by solving puzzles which gives you gems. There are gates across the level and each gate requires a certain amount of gems for you to get through. I didn’t see the need to having to complete every single puzzle in order to be able to move forward. To my despair I had to youtube a couple of levels in order to get to see the end of the game.
One thing I also got confronted with, was the no “holding hand” policy. Jonathan Blow talks a lot about this especially when it comes to respecting the player. For me, that was definitely one of the big changes vs AAA games.
There are no tutorials and the game mechanics are for you to discover. As a consequence, a couple times in the game I found myself thinking “so what now?”, but the game is well designed and these uncertainty moments didn’t last long.
Lastly, based on comments on twitter I was expecting to have that astonishment feeling when you discover new mechanics for the first time.
I clearly remember that moment from Portal where I was strafing on one side of a portal looking through the other side but to be honest I didn’t get that feeling from The Swapper.
One of the reason for this, was player perspective. I find first person more immersive which made a big difference to Portal.
All in all I’m glad I invested £10 and 5 hours into the game as it’s well worth it. Well done Facepalm Games.