Originality in games is naturally harder and harder to come by nowadays as our beloved industry goes from strength to strength. But there are some that immediately grab your attention because they have an original idea at their core. Verlet Swing is one such game. Prepare to enter a curiously weird game world where your only chance of escape is to swing to safety like a demented Spiderman trapped in an ’80s bootleg video game.
First of all, let’s clear up what that strange looking word “verlet” means. It refers to verlet integration, which is a mathematical way of calculating trajectories of particles in molecular dynamics situations and computer graphics. Everyday’s a school day.
With that in mind, the aim of the game is to swing through each stage and manoeuvre through numerous obstacles towards a shimmering blob (stay with me). Your goal is also denoted by a column of yellow light to guide you there, just in case it isn’t immediately obvious. And it might not be, as you’ll have to avoid flying fish, slices of pizza and all sorts of obstacles to make it to the finish. Told you it was weird.
To swing, you’ll need to pull RT when you target something, attaching to it in the process, with your cursor changing accordingly. From there, use of the left thumbstick will guide you through the air, and slow you down if you pull back on it. Of course, you’ll need to time your swings right to avoid hitting obstacles as well as crashing into the ground below. It’s worth noting that if you need to quickly restart the stage, you can do so by hitting the “view” button.
Stages become increasingly complicated, but flesh out the simple but satisfying gameplay. There are 100 levels to clear, and they do start to get very difficult and frustrating when you’ve cleared the first 50 or so. This is partly because every now and then you’ll attach to the wrong target (often something in the far flung distance) as opposed to what you wanted, causing instant death. It’s also partly because the stages get very challenging, and they are meant to be. Sometimes, however, this can border on feeling unfair meaning only the most patient players will see out all 100 levels.
As you progress, you’ll rack up some serious km/h, and the speed freaks out there will be quick to notice a handy speedometer in the corner of the screen. Combine this with the sound of the air rushing around you, as well as the first person perspective and it all makes for a pretty exhilarating experience.
Teapots – for some reason – are used to rank your completion time. You’ll always have your best time displayed so if you like chasing records, Verlet Swing allows you to scratch that itch. Each level also has online leaderboards for the ultra competitive swingers (no laughing at the back). Achieving four teapots, which indicates a near perfect run, on each stage is very difficult, which provides some limited replay value. In the later stages however, you’ll just be glad to clear them rather than worrying about how well you did. You’d be a true sadist to go back for more.
Verlet Swing on Xbox One looks and sounds as retro as they come, but also has a pretty chilled out vibe. Each group of 20 levels is themed, and you’ll be swinging through all sorts of locations from a dodgy aquarium setting to a retro games arcade. It’s the perfect way to kill an hour or two after a long day at work.
Aside from the regular game mode, you can also choose to replay levels or take on extra challenges. They aren’t too inventive, such as “play through the stages with the lowest amount of swings”, but they do add some longevity. You’ll unlock these as you progress through the main game.
Verlet Swing is reasonably priced considering there are a fair few hours of gameplay to be had here. It has a distinct style and provides enjoyable, easy to play, hard to master thrills. Patience is definitely a virtue with this game, but you could do much worse, so make sure you swing by and check it out sometime.