Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP

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Up until now all of the games I have reviewed have been on the PC. Now that I have a Nexus 7 I can start playing some of those mobile games that I didn't have access to before. I'm still discovering more, so if you have suggestions for games that I would enjoy, shoot me an email.

The first game I've tried out is called Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery EP, and I am quite pleased with my choice.

As the name suggests, it is a bit of a musical experiment wrapped up in a video game. Records (or Big Black CDs as I used to call them) show up with some frequency in the game as little reminders to pay attention to the awesome sounds being gently pushed into your ear canals. I enjoyed the music so much that I went and bought the soundtrack.

As you can see most of the visuals are very simple, very 16-bit. But every once in a while there is something that is nice and smooth. These objects usually don't belong with the rest of their surroundings, and the difference in visual style helps to emphasize that sense of alienation.

Despite the fact that the visual style is very pixelated, there were quite a few moments that just took my breath away. The best part about them is that I didn't see them coming, so the awe factor was even greater.

Most of the game is spent with the device in landscape, and you walk around by either holding down on the spot you want your character to walk to, or you double-tap there.

However, when you rotate the device into portrait, she will unsheathe her sword and prepare for battle. Obviously whenever there is an enemy nearby this is what you want to do.

The combat always follows the pattern of "tap the shield when your enemy is going to attack" until "your enemy is vulnerable, tap the sword." Each enemy has different patterns to them (usually the music gives you a hint at what that pattern is) so you have to stay on your toes. The boss battles are really intense, especially if you make a couple of mistakes at the beginning and can't afford to get hit when it gets really crazy. I'm pretty sure that I got more than a few weird looks while I was sitting in the TV lounge yelling at my tablet that it wouldn't defeat me.

In between the battles there are quite a few puzzles. The hints are often very cryptic, but they are always enough to get you going in the right direction and once you have started the rest just kind of follows.

The tone of the game is hard to describe, as it has several parts that almost conflict. The game is very meta, and makes references to the fact that you are outside of the game world affecting the events inside the game world. It also has a great sense of humor, and is often very frank with its jokes. At the same time it is very serious, and you are always aware that the events that are taking place cannot lead to a happy ending.

 The game, while being very story-driven, is also very easy to digest in small chunks. This is very important in  a mobile game. The chapters are not too long, and they make sure to remind you what is going on at the beginning of each one.

Sword & Sworcery is available on Android ($3) and iOS ($5). Of course I just checked their website and found out that it has been available on Steam ($8) since April of last year. So I could have played it on my PC, but whatever. If you have a choice I would recommend playing it on a mobile device. It is well worth your time.