Occasionally a game comes along that has won so many awards that it would just be criminal to not give it a little look. The Swapper has a medals list as long as your arm and now, with it’s arrival on Xbox One, it can be opened up to a whole new world of trophies and achievements.
I have to admit to never having heard of The Swapper. Fully ingrained into the Xbox way of life, I can sometimes be accused of becoming ignorant to some of the smaller indie titles that release on PC and Playstation. But given the opportunity to review, I’ll most definitely do a shed load of research and it was from this that The Swappers past glories came to light.
But what can be great on PC doesn’t necessarily transfer to the console scene well; thankfully Facepalm Games needn’t do as their name suggests though as they’ve brought us something pretty damn decent.
Set in space with the most classic of sci-fi atmospheres, you play as a scavenger left aboard a decaying research station, filled with orbs and strange alien rocks. The story behind The Swapper is slowly drop fed to its baying audience and it’s this mysterious nature that not only entices you into playing the game to its full conclusion, but also gives the opportunity to see the story go one of two ways. And which way that is, is completely down to you.
Wielding an experimental cloning device, from the get-go you’ll find yourself getting to grips with the ability to swap between yourself and the clones that you create. Do clones have feelings? Do clones have memories? Are clones surplus to requirements? You’ll get to answer those questions and many more throughout your time with The Swapper.
In order to escape the station you find yourself upon, you’ll need to navigate your way through numerous areas, both large and small in size as you go about collecting enough orbs in order to open up the command centre of the ship and find your way to safety. But without orbs, much of the ship will be locked down and it’s the collecting of these which is the tricky part, with each sphere hidden away in some of the most out-of-reach places. Being able to jump your character short distances will enable you to pick up the earlier orbs, but very quickly you’ll need to master the art of cloning yourself in order to reach the more tricky spots. A quick blast of the left trigger or bumper will see you be able to place your clone, whilst a depress of the right sided levers let you take control of your newly created self.
It doesn’t take long for the difficulty of the puzzles to ramp up to such a degree that you’ll be needing to place up to four clones at any one time in order to move your way round the puzzles. Precision is all important and a single step in the wrong direction, or a misplaced movement of the right stick leading to an incorrect clone drop can lead to a certain amount of frustration coming into play. Thankfully, most errors can be erased by simple walking your character into the clones, regrouping and basically starting the area over again. That is something which you’ll find yourself doing on more than one occasion especially once the inclusion of red, blue and magenta coloured lights and areas ensure that the clone placements are only available in ever decreasing spaces.
Thankfully though, the vast majority of the puzzles can be completed with a little brain power. I was amazed at how easily some orbs could be collected once I spent a minute or two working out clone placings, spacings and movements. Granted, the odd latter level is a right pain in the arse to complete but thankfully the world we live in means that answers can be whisked from thin air at the touch of a button! Some may call it cheating; I just say ‘Thanks Google’.
There is a lot of back-tracking and going over old ground in The Swapper but the inclusion of numerous well placed teleporters means that it’s never too much of a chore whilst you search down that missing orb. The pop-up map is also a great help and works beautifully well in helping you navigate your way round. Maps are put in games to do one job and one job only and it’s quite amazing how useless some can be. Thankfully that isn’t the case at all with the one Facepalm Games have included in The Swapper.
Whilst the audio quality isn’t of the highest standard and some of the voice casting of the other space guys you meet can be a tad monotone, I can’t in anyway throw the same criticism at the visuals on offer. The hand crafted visuals on offer are, at times, outstanding and whilst many of the areas you visit will consist of bland grey space metal materials, it never gets boring to look at or wander your way through.
The brilliant puzzles that The Swapper brings most definitely shine out bright over the top of an intriguing mysterious story and fans of side scrolling puzzlers will be more than happy with what is thrown their way. In fact, even if you’re not normally a fan of the brain taxing genre, you should most definitely check out a game that brings plenty of enjoyment.
Expect to see The Swapper rack up a load more awards…this time on Xbox One!