Played on PS4/Vita (Also on PS3 / PC / Mac / Linux / Wii U)
The Swapper is one of the smartest, most atmospheric puzzle games you can play.
Having been released nearly two years ago, The Swapper has been on my list of shame for some time now. I have it on Steam, installed on two computers, and I had still had yet to sit down and play it until now. A part of this month’s PlayStation Plus offerings, The Swapper is free for subscribers, and is a Cross-Buy game for PS4, PS3, and Vita. Being the trophy addict that I am, I dove into it on PS4 and Vita (well technically PS TV) to see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing I discovered about The Swapper is that it is utterly gorgeous. The game has a wonderful balance of incredible detail on assets mixed with a minimalistic variety of style and actual number of assets on the screen. It’s moody, doused in atmosphere, and instantly tense. The second thing I discovered was that I am a complete idiot for waiting this long.
The Swapper is absolutely wonderful. If you’ve never heard of it, the game is a puzzle-based side-scrolling platformer from indie developer Facepalm Games, and ported by Curve Studios. Players control an unnamed person exploring a mostly abandoned space station, looking for a way to escape. It’s what we’ve come to call “Metroidvania”, as you explore and complete puzzles you collect orbs, which allow you to progress to new and deeper areas of the station.
The unique twist to The Swapper comes from the way puzzles are completed. At the start of the game you pick up a tool that allows you to clone yourself up to four times, and shift to controlling whichever clone you choose. Using the tool you can place where the clone spawns, but as you move, the clone moves in a mirrored fashion. It forces you to keep track of not only completing the puzzles, but keeping your clones in the correct position at all times – once you get all four clones active, it can keep “puzzling” to say the least. Thankfully every puzzle is very well thought out, creating a wonderful sense of discovery and achievement when you grab an orb and move onto a new area.
In regards to puzzles specifically, most of them consist of utilizing your clones to trigger buttons that allows whichever clone you’re controlling to reach an orb or new area. Other puzzles come from exploration, where you might create a clone in the air, switch to that clone, and repeat to essentially climb up vertically and reach a ledge. As you swap to each new clone, your previous clone drops, and falls to its death.
This continually killing of clones brings up something unique about the game, and that is the philosophical debate that subtly arises regarding not only cloning, but also what happenings when the source dies and only the clone(s) exist. Is that person still the same? Does something unintended happen with each swap?
I won’t go much further except to say please play The Swapper if, like me, you’ve ignored it until now. It’s rooted itself as one of my favorite puzzle games in recent memory. The visuals are perfect, the sound and atmosphere is killer, and the puzzles are genuinely smart and enjoyable. Play it now.