Developer//Publisher: Facepalm Games
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
From the very first moment of The Swapper the world captivates, I was thrust into a research centre that has seen better days, without any context. It is this delightful sense of mystery that kept me intrigued throughout the entire adventure. What happened here? What event could have taken place? These questions rippled through my mind, but The Swapper also made me question my own morality. What is considered murder? What is considered right and wrong? What makes The Swapper so strong, is this constant walk within the morally grey confides of the games main mechanic – The Swapper device.
Within the first few minutes we discover The Swapper device, this tool allows us to create multiple copies of ourselves and transfer our conscious mind to these clones. Allowing us to complete the challenging puzzles that lie ahead. Most games give you a few tools throughout your journey, but The Swapper focuses on this one device. What makes this premise so impressive is that they continuously freshen up the puzzle mechanics that work around this device.
Just when you think you have these puzzles figured out, Facepalm Games will introduce coloured areas that restrict our devices abilities. Red areas will allow you to create copies of yourself, but will not allow you to transfer to these clones. Blue areas won’t allow you to create copies within the area, but you may transfer to clones residing inside. Add in anti-gravity areas, gravity inverters that will allow you to walk upside-down, and the colour purple leaving your abilities completely useless.
All these features together create some entertaining puzzles, that will leave you feeling satisfied when you finally out-think their creators. But it is during the games conclusion where these puzzles take an extremely difficult turn, leaving you scratching your head, thinking outside the box and really struggling to defeat these challenging obstacles. It is here The Swapper comes into its element, sitting alongside other mind-bending puzzle titles like the Portal series, or Anti-Chamber. The Swapper wants you to think outside the box and it is content to watch you struggle for hours, trying every solution that comes to mind. This is where The Swapper succeeds.
The Swapper’s visual style is gorgeous. Every piece of art was constructed using clay models and everyday pieces of material, then placed into the world. This unique style is one that will provide some outstanding visual flare, discovering empty rec rooms that remain from the events inside the research centre add more character to the games environment. The Swapper also indulgences the senses with its beautiful, charming soundtrack. These calm sounds complement the games visual style, while emphasising the feeling of being alone inside the games environment.
Why are we alone? This narrative is slowly revealed throughout written logs and strange pieces of texts, building up the mystery surrounding the events of your location. I always found myself wanting to know more, motivated to complete more puzzles and backtrack throughout the games substantial environment to find every clue. The Swapper may be over in 3-4 hours, but this is not including the time spent struggling with some difficult puzzles. This entire journey becomes a delightful addiction, full with brilliant puzzles and an narrative that will captivate until the games conclusion.
The Swapper makes you question your own morality. The very first time you see a clone of yourself fall to an untimely death, hearing their bones crunch as they hit the hard earth, you are left with a feeling of shock. You will swap your conscious mind between these clones countless times throughout the game, even murdering these former versions of yourself just to progress. Your true self at the start of the game was lost hours ago, alongside the hundreds of other versions of yourself along the way. Though your character never speaks, the feeling that you have brutally murdered pieces of yourself throughout the game, is one that will definitely provide a walk down Morality Lane. It’s in this idea of murdering versions of yourself, that makes you wonder what is left of your character when the credits finally roll.
Fans of Super Metroid will be at home, using the games map to discover locations they have previously missed and locate their next point of interest. The Swapper offers an efficient fast travel system that allows vigorous transitions with almost zero load time, this allows you to continue exploring in the blink of an eye never losing your connection inside this world. I would have appreciated an ability to see the entire map with the press of a button, rather than constantly maneuvering around the map to find missed objectives. As I found it took longer than it necessarily needed to be. Though this is a completely minor gripe, that never manages to ruin the experience in a substantial manner.
When I finished The Swapper, I sat there wanting to play more Swapper. Facepalm Games has made a brilliant puzzle game, one that challenges the very best minds, while making your question your own moral quandaries. Even when I found myself completely stuck on the most challenging of puzzles, I continued to think outside the box because I wanted to experience more of The Swapper’s mysterious charm.
The Swapper is a delightful experience, one that constantly reminded me of the intelligent Portal Series, the charm of The Unfinished Swan, and the atmosphere of Thomas Was Alone. The Swapper has earned its right to stand alongside these exquisite titles, holding its head high.
The Swapper is an experience that should not be missed. This is one of the best independent titles available, and one of the best games 2013 has offered so far.
+ Intelligent puzzles that continuously challenge.
+ Charming visual experience, complemented by a beautiful score.
+ Able to make yourself question your own morality.
+ An absolute pleasure to experience.
– Navigation of world map can take longer than necessary.