fri 18/09/2020

The Swapper | reviews, news & interviews

The Swapper

The Swapper

Clone-killing puzzle game asks what your soul looks like…

'The Swapper': Which one is the original you?

Which you is you? Where does your soul live? Who cares if a clone of you dies? For a fairly simple puzzle game, The Swapper asks some serious questions. And importantly, it asks them with subtlety, deftness and atmosphere – that enhances the excellent gameplay.

Which you is you? Where does your soul live? Who cares if a clone of you dies? For a fairly simple puzzle game, The Swapper asks some serious questions. And importantly, it asks them with subtlety, deftness and atmosphere – that enhances the excellent gameplay.

Exploring a semi-ruined space station, your fragile astronaut finds a strange device that lets you create up to four clones of yourself. These clones will walk, grab, jump as you do, but you can place them far from you. More than that, you can swap your control, your consciousness, to them if you have direct line of sight. And that's where the concept of "you" becomes somewhat hazy.

The Swapper - indie puzzle game asks uncomfortable questionsWhich you is you? Is it the clone standing on a pressure pad, the clone that you've just swapped to running through a door, or the "original" that entered the level, but you've now forced into running headlong down a pit to their death (as you run through a door, they run forward also)?

The Swapper uses its hand-built environments and gloomy, glitchy and out-of-focus visuals, electronic score and sparse interactive dialogue to wonderful effect – building up layers of atmosphere and story on top of puzzle play. The result feels creepy, fraught and elegiac, and creates a space for players to ask themselves how comfortable they feel with the disposable lives of their characters.

The Swapper - indie puzzle game asks uncomfortable questionsThese additional layers of art add subtly and brilliantly to the game, but they don't strongly interact with the actual puzzle gameplay at hand. This could be viewed as a missed opportunity – deepening the link between puzzle-solving gameplay and the creepiness of killing off your clones would have been worthwhile. But fortunately, the puzzle gameplay is so varied and well-judged in difficulty, it ultimately matters little.

As well as the simple ability to create and swap between clones, The Swapper also throws in hazy lights that can block you from placing new clones, swapping to existing clones or both. These fairly simple ingredients rapidly evolve into a range of puzzle rooms that vary wildly in terms of approach and feel.

The end result is a very impressive set of puzzles that are well-designed to test your brain without too often leaving you totally stymied or clueless. On top of that, and related to it, is a uniquely atmospheric and creepy theme that is unafraid to gently ask big questions.

Uses... gloomy, glitchy and out-of-focus visuals, electronic score and sparse interactive dialogue to wonderful effect...

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters