The Swapper Review (PS4)
It has been just over a year since The Swapper first came out. It has been almost five months since I picked up the PC copy in a humble bundle and then proceeded to add it to my backlog and never play it. With The Swapper now releasing on the Playstation 4 I finally understand my mistake. The Swapper isn’t a game that should be added to a backlog and left unfinished, it should be at the top of the list. It should have been the first thing I played when I got it and an experience that I’ll never forget.
Initially the most striking part of The Swapper is the art style. Using clay models that were digitized into in-game assets, all the environments look beautiful. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for games which use these kind of art styles but The Swapper is definitely one of the prettiest yet. Everything looks dark and eerie as it should given the game takes place in an abandoned colony on some far off planet. It’s not the most original setting in the world but it is done justice by the intensely creepy and lonely atmosphere reminiscent of the older Metroid games. The music adds to this atmosphere too and while it’s not meant to be particularly scary it definitely feels lonely and empty.
The Swapper itself is a device that allows the main character to create a clone of themselves and transfer their consciousness into it. These clones will die. It’s inevitable, there will always be a point where they need to create a clone in mid air, transfer themselves into it, then make another above it and so on to leapfrog to a location. But what about the clones? They fall helplessly to their death, a body that so recently was the main character, that’s just how it goes. It’s the dropping Yoshi into a pit scenario again but this time you’re allowing versions of yourself to die repeatedly to progress. These kind of questions are brought up as the story progresses and are probably what I enjoyed most. The questions about what differentiates the human mind from machines, the essence of what makes us human and whether there is anything or we should even care are intriguing and well explained through journal entries and interactions with the ominous Watcher beings in the ship.
At its core though, The Swapper is a puzzle game. Exploring the colony and finding puzzle rooms which use the cloning mechanic in some interesting ways to unlock the next section of the story is the game here. The puzzles themselves ramp up in difficulty nicely, getting pretty difficult towards the end but always being within reason. Every puzzle feels expertly crafted regardless of the difficulty. I left many of the rooms going “Huh, that was smart.” Lighting is used to great effect in these puzzles too with blue lit areas blocking the creation of clones and red lit areas blocking the beam which transfers control between clones. Each of these on their own are relatively simple but the ways in which they are combined create some brilliantly complex and fun puzzles
I wasn’t expecting much from The Swapper but it surprised me. So many puzzle platformers suffer from issues like length and boring puzzles but The Swapper delivers on all fronts and then also adds an intriguing story with questions about morality and humanity that are incredibly interesting. I genuinely can’t think of a complaint I have about it. If you like puzzle platformers this is one of the best around regardless of whether you play it on PS4, PS3, Vita or PC.
5 Freefalling Clones Out Of 5The Swapper Review (PS4),