Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GOT 'IM - Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

My first completed game of April is also the first mobile device game I've ever finished. Well, the first mobile device game I've ever finished that's the kind of game you're supposed to finish. Sorry if that was confusing, but so is this game's name: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.

Sollosi, you fucking hipster. Why are you playing a game with its creator's name AND with an unnecessary record-store suffix in the title? Well, I'm playing it because A) it had a weird amount of critical acclaim for a mobile device game when it came out a year ago, and showed up on several "best of 2011" lists; B) I received an iPhone 4 as a gift for my birthday in February, and decided to christen it as a gaming device with that hipster game I heard about last year. I'm a little annoyed with Superbrothers and Capybara Games for not simply calling the game Sword & Sworcery, because that's a perfectly quirky, appealing, and marketable name for a quirky, interesting acid trip of a game.

Sworcery (as it shall be known from now on in this review) is more similar to an adventure game than anything else. There's technically "action" and on the surface the combat resembles that of an "RPG," but really all you're doing is moving and interacting with your environment via clicks, double-clicks, and holding down a click. Combat for the most part is timed button presses to sword and shield icons, reacting to enemy movements and keeping the beat to Sworcery's solid soundtrack.

But hey, that's just nuts and bolts talk. And that's not what Sworcery is all about. Sworcery is about its vibe. The visuals are square and pixelated, with characters having exaggeratedly long arms and legs and tiny heads, and the sound work is stunning. The sound effects are impactful, the voice work is... weird-good, and the music is stellar. Basically, you wander through the game, completing objectives by clicking, and taking in the ambiance. Especially the music. Great soundtrack. YouTube that shit - "Lone Star" is my favorite.

The storyline is strange, but it works. The Scythian (that's you) wishes to obtain the Megatome (a book of sworcery), download the three Trigons into the Megatome, and then upload the Megatome to the swirling infinite. You can use the Megatome to examine the minds of The Scythian or NPCs (checking out the Narrator's thoughts is a good way to figure out what you need to do next) or to "sing a song of sworcery" to light up objects with magic. 90% of Sworcery's puzzles are going into sworcery mode and tapping objects in a certain order and manner.

While you're doing this (and it's more fun than it sounds, I guess), the game is delivering you amusing narration and dialogue in lines of under 130 characters. That's right, you have the option of automatically tweeting any words you encounter in the game (plus a #sworcery hashtag) with a single click. The narrator insists that it's important to do so, but I couldn't figure out any truth to that claim. I had fun with this; here are a few non-spoiler tweets I hit directly from the game:

Still there's something strange about how The Scythian behaved, almost as if she was being controlled by an unseen force. #sworcery

We got the peculiar feeling that it was maybe a time of miracles - where my miracles at? #miracles #sworcery

We were feeling a little worse for wear... it was probably something to do with all those cosmic laser bolts. #sworcery

I should probably mention that I accidentally played a bugged version of this game first, buying the deluxe (iPad and iPhone 4S) version on an older iPhone. It was fine for most of the game but bugged out during Sworcery's final cutscene and crashed at the same place during multiple attempts. Frustrated, I bought Sworcery on Steam (which I may have done one day down the line anyway) and blasted through it to completion, changing the date on my PC manually to speed through the puzzle that requires waiting for certain days on your device's calendar. The Steam version's even easier to play than the iPhone version, as mouse clicks are less greasy and smudging than one's finger.

Look, it's only a $6 download on an iOS device or $8 on Steam. It isn't long (maybe 4 hours if you take your time), and the only difficulty is some tricky attack timing on boss battles and a few chase sequences with Sworcery's major enemy: a specter that pursues The Scythian at inopportune times. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is an unusual, funky, amusing, and interesting game that's totally worth its sandwich-esque price. And you KNOW that Steam is going to sell it for two bucks or something one day down the line.

Games Beaten: 2012 Edition

1. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
2. Radiant Historia
3. Mass Effect
4. Mass Effect 2
5. Breath of Death VII: The Beginning (Hard mode)
6. Grandia II
7. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode 2
8. Mass Effect 3
9. Journey
10. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
11. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Targets: 3/12


Well that's that. Next up my plan is to get into Red Dead Redemption in a big way, while throwing sidelong glances to my Steam collection and oft-ignored DS and PSP. Gotta try and catch up by beating two targets (including RDR) before June.

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