Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Post-Launch Review
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Developer: Capybara Games
Released: March 24 2011 (iPad) / April 16 2012 (Steam)


Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (which will be hereafter referred to as S&S because that's long to type) is an homage to classic adventure games: exploration, investigation, and problem-solving with occasional simple combat.

At Launch

S&S scored 86% on iOS and three points lower on the PC. Critics were impressed with the game's music and visuals, and its more laid-back approach to play. Some didn't like the pacing and relative lack of exposition and action. Many have likened it more to an interactive art piece than a video game - sometimes in a negative sense, but mostly positive.

Post Launch

I've found documentation of a minor patch that fixes three bugs, but nothing else.

The Good

Pretty Pixels
S&S is pixel art at its finest. The style is minimalistic, but conveys everything you need to know perfectly well, and looks good in the process. Smooth gradients are used for the sky and lighting, which adds some contrast with the landscape. It looks great.
S&S's music is mostly chiptune stuff with some instruments mixed in as well - drums etc. It does an excellent job of being quiet and foreboding and mysterious, and works well with the graphics to convey a mood or feeling.
Each line of thought or dialogue starts out in vaguely fancy and mysterious language, and often devolves into silliness by the end of the sentence. It's rather amusing. Although, it is worth noting that some people feel that the odd bits ruin the mood of mystery and adventure. I love the humour, but others may not.
Some examples: 
"We spied a collection of graves in a thicket to the side of the old road and we wondered what was up with that."
"In the light of the gathering storm Logfella admitted he had a serious case of the heebie jeebies right now."

The Neutral

Unsolved Mysteries
S&S hints that there's something else going on behind the scenes, what with its smoking, suited narrator (if that's the right word for him). He constantly makes references to "the experiment" and pops up to tell you you're doing well. Unfortunately you never get to find out what all this means. The Scythian's story concludes, but a couple of mysteries are left hanging.
Some people will like this approach, believing that not everything needs to be explained. Others will be frustrated that they'll never know. I'm not sure where I fall, so this is in neutral.
Every line of thought or dialogue can be tweeted to show your progress. This could, in theory, get super excessive, but the game itself warns you not to overdo it, which is nice. It adds hashtags, too. I thought I'd try it just for fun, and I picked out what I thought were only the best lines. That's hard, though, because most of them are great.
At the end of each level, the game asks you to tweet about it. This I don't like. I'd prefer if the game let you know the option was there and then stepped back.

That ginormous black spot is the cursor. Yuck.

The Bad

PC Controls
To move, you click and hold in the direction you want to go (or double click). To interact with or inspect something, you double click on it. Simple, but irritating - when you click and hold you get this big dark spot surrounded by lines that shows where the cursor is. In the iOS version this would've been covered by your finger, but in the PC version it's ugly. Also, click and hold gets uncomfortable quickly, while double clicking all the time is almost as bad. This could've been solved simply by using the arrow keys for movement.

The Verdict

Recommendation: play it.
S&S is short, and there's not a huge amount of interactivity, but if you like pixel art, chiptunes, or classic adventure games, you'll like Sword & Sworcery. It contains a delightful mix of mysterious fantasy atmosphere and silliness, and presents some neat ideas. And of course it looks and sounds amazing.

1 comment:

  1. I also think you could get around simply by double-clicking an area as long as that area wasn't a point of interest. That's how I got around for most of the game, if I'm not mistaken.

    Also, Logfella gets funnier later when he's just outside chopping wood. When you try to talk to him, the subtitled "actual" dialogue comes up, but before that, he mumbles some amusing things. I can't remember specifics, but it was additionally amusing.