A device which can be used to instantly create an exact clone of its user sounds like a pretty nifty item, especially when there are pressing concerns which require a team-based solution but everybody else is too busy being dead or whatever it is they’re doing instead of lending a helping hand. It seems that in the depth of outer space, more than anywhere else, if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. The Swapper by independent games developer Facepalm Games embodies this ethos of self-reliance quite literally by providing you with the eponymous device which allows you to not only create up to four clones of yourself at the merest pull of the trigger, but to also transfer your consciousness between these instant-buddies at a whim.
Although the ability to create a small team of like-minded clones may seem like a sure-fire solution to any problem, the actual execution of this unique army-of-one approach to crisis resolution is severely hampered by a limitation inherent to the technology that the swapper device employs: your clones are exact carbon copies of your player character and mimic your every movement – they have no capacity for independent thought or action. Due to this, you will be required to employ some creative thinking and utilise each level’s geometry to your advantage in order to position your other handsome selves in the right places.
It may sound like a simplistic concept, and in essence it is – but it is one which works marvelously, and combined with some clever level designs, makes for a game which will certainly test the limits of one’s ability to think outside the box. Those looking for a challenging and wholly satisfying puzzle platformer experience won’t be disappointed with this title.
Although it is a 2D game, The Swapper’s atmosphere certainly does not lack depth. Revolving around a “less is more” philosophy with respect to graphics, it doesn’t take long for the sense of isolation to begin creeping in as your character is shrouded in the eerie blackness of the abandoned space station. The dull ambient lighting and photo-luminescent flora scattered throughout the station doesn’t so much illuminate your surroundings as it does in accentuating the darkness, visually and metaphorically deepening the unknown.
The evocative soundtrack sets the haunting and isolated mood perfectly and is provides a fitting aural compliment to the visual and cognitive treats that make up the game. If The Swapper was a satisfying meal, then the soundtrack would be the wine which accompanies it; something to be savoured between mouthfuls or enjoyed in its own right, and something without which the ensemble would seem incomplete.
A head-scratcher absolutely oozing in atmosphere, The Swapper is a remarkable amalgamation of graphics, sound and narrative which also manages to ask the player some very probing existential questions.
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