“If you were a fan of Portal then this is a game you need to play…”
The Swapper is a puzzle-platformer packed full of mystery, developed by Facepalm Games. Set deep in outer space on an abandoned research station, you play as a female protagonist exploring some strange goings on around said station. She quickly discovers a strange Swapper Device, which was at the centre of controversy prior to whatever has happened here, allowing her to project several animated clones of herself and control their movements. As she wonders the station making use of this new found ability, strange messages appear as she passes some unusual rock samples, and archived computer terminal records begin to piece together a dark picture of what has gone on here. It also looks as though another person is wondering a similar path, but does not wish to reveal themselves or be followed…
As you can already tell, The Swapper really is a mysterious game, and for a puzzler it has a pretty deep story to follow as well. In terms of storytelling, it feels a bit like Alien Isolation did, with a lot of what you find out being logged in computer records and your protagonist feeling very much alone. In terms of play style however, it is more like a 2.5D version of Portal. In both of these cases, these are some pretty strong titles to be comparable to as a game, and what The Swapper does very well is bring these two sides of the coin together. The resulting game is both casual and in depth, offering a relaxed pace of play but never lacking in context, and thus successfully keeping the player’s attention.
The puzzles which you are set the challenge of overcoming in The Swapper are not as straight forward as the game simply saying “hey, over here, I have a puzzle for you”. They fit so naturally into the story that they do not feel like a random selection of puzzles like you might find in similar games, and the experience flows remarkably well as a result. There is also little instruction aside from a few very subtle clues, so you are very much left alone to wonder and figure things out for yourself. This adds to the mystery of the game and enhances your empathy with the lone space traveller character which you are playing the role of. Each puzzle poses a unique challenge, but never goes beyond the known parameters of the game and keeps to a uniform style with the setting a story. One might go as far as to say this is perhaps the best puzzler game since Portal 2, and that really is saying something for it!
As well as a story which keeps you interested and gameplay which really grips your attention, the visuals and audio of The Swapper do the game great justice too. Visually, everything is dark and, well, spacey I suppose, not to mention the fact that it all looks fantastic. HD graphics are put to good use in this 2.5D platformer, which looks far better than many of the others on the market. The music and audio in the game are both gentle and subtle, so as not to intrude on the game’s sense of loneliness, and certainly add to the mysterious nature of the story, as well as being eerily relaxing too. A strong base game is supported by an equally strong backing of good looks and well placed sounds in this game.
Perhaps my only gripe with The Swapper is the controlling of the game. You are set up with this neat Swapper Device which lets you project clones of yourself, which is awesome. The mechanics around it are fantastic too, with certain lights blocking the projections, decontamination areas which destroy your clones, time slowing down when you are projecting a clone to allow for more challenging, timed puzzles, and several other really smart ideas. The problem with controlling all of this then is trying to look around and aim with the Xbox One controller’s right analogue stick. On the PC there would be no problem here as you could easily navigate the fine tuned targets of your character using the mouse. Arguably, there is no easier way to mimic this on the Xbox One than by using the right stick to do it, but it is not always easy to control these finer movements and often it takes extra time to adjust as a result.
Given that in my opinion however this is the only real problem with the game, and as problems go it is neither major nor is it game breaking, it is fair to say that The Swapper is a success. It builds on the foundations laid before it by similar successful titles and plays out in its own unique way on top of these. It provides some great casual entertainment which you can enjoy at your own pace and without pressure. At the same time, it offers you an intriguing story filled with mystery, varied and challenging puzzles to complete, and some clever game mechanics which allow the game to broaden what might have been possible with only the basics to hand. If you were a fan of Portal then this is a game you need to play, and if you are a fan of puzzlers with great quality storylines in general, this is certainly one which you will want to add to your collection.
- Engaging storyline filled with mystery that keeps your full attention throughout.
- Fantastic gameplay style and mechanics, reminiscent of the successful Portal gameplay formula.
- Varied and challenging puzzles which make you think, but also fit naturally into the flow and pace of play.
- The ability to play at your own pace allows for a relaxed experience for casual gamers and a faster paced one for those who prefer to play this way instead.
- Spot on in terms of the visual and audio which back up the bulk of the game, with HD graphics that surpass many similar titles on the market.
- It is difficult to accurately control the aiming mechanic of the game quickly, precisely and naturally using the Xbox One controller’s right analogue stick.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.