Having gained critical acclaim on the PC back in 2013, The Swapper
has now made the jump onto Xbox One. Recently the Xbox One has been showered with plenty of 2D side scrolling game and puzzle games alike, so what can The Swapper
bring to the table that makes it stand out? It is a puzzle game that introduces a new way to get about; a machine that allows you to create up to 4 clones of yourself and swap to them to be able to control their movements as well as your own. Group this in with a creepy space station setting and you've got yourself a whole load of potential for a great game.
Use the Swapper to reach places you can't jump to
The game sees you take control of a nameless astronaut as he explores a space research centre, one that seems void of human life but full to the brim of strange rock specimens. Eventually you do come across a fellow human being, but her actions are erratic and her conversations rushed. After you explore the facility on your own for a little while, the "other person" decides to help guide you through the facility and explains more about what has been going on. The rock specimens are introduced as "The Watchers", and they killed off the rest of the crew that were working on researching them. You are told more about the story behind The Watchers, your mysterious astronaut helper and what happened on the research facility, which is helped by memory terminals which kept track of the goings on in the station, the thoughts of the researchers and what they knew about The Watchers. The intrigue to the story is one of the best things about this game, and as you are solving the puzzles you are constantly being fed little bits of information from the other astronaut.
The story may not make complete sense at first, but after a longer cut scene toward the end of the game everything is made relatively clear. Told mysteriously but thoroughly, the game's story is concluded in a fairly dramatic way, leaving you with a life or death decision that will dramatically change the outcome, as well as test your morals. You arrive on the station alone, but you aren't on your own for long once you are introduced to the game's main puzzle solving device; the Swapper. This device allows you to create up to four clones of yourself and swap to each of these different clones. You use this ability to make your way through the facility and collect the orbs scattered about. The orbs will grant you access to different areas, allowing you to explore more. Whilst the world you explore isn't huge, there is more than enough to keep you exploring and searching for orbs, rocks and terminals. Your exploration is made a little bit easier with the placement of teleporters, both short and long range, which will take you both between rooms as well as from one side of the facility to the other. This means if you need or want to go back to a previous area, that journey is made that little bit shorter and more convenient.
Reach new heights with the swapping device!
The puzzles you need to complete to make it through the station are on the right level in terms of difficulty. They may keep you guessing for a while, and you may just come across the solution through trial and error, but they shouldn't be so difficult that they force you off the game from being stuck. They basically see you using your clones to either press buttons to open doors for you, or manoeuvre your way through the different coloured lights. Depending on which light is over you, you are blocked from doing certain things, for example red light means you can't swap to another clone in it, and blue means you can't even create a clone in that area. The fun comes in trying to make it past the lights, press the right buttons and get to where the orb is. The most difficult aspect is that when you move one clone, you move them all, so you have to find a way to get them all in the right place and still be able to reach the orbs you need.
The puzzles get harder the further you get into the game, when new aspects are added and more obstacles are introduced. Along with more colours to try and avoid, there are also gravity buttons which, if you step on one, sends you up to walk on the ceiling. You need to step on another gravity button to get you back down to the ground, or the clones you create from that point will also be upside down. This will be needed sometimes to get through some of the puzzles though, and the tough bit comes from figuring out how many clones you need and which way up you need them. The game gives you some handy abilities, though. For example when your clones walk into each other they recombine and you can create another one, as well as the fact that when you press the button to create the clone time slows down, so you have more time to place it and swap to it if need be.
With the freedom to explore, where will you go first?
With a whole station to explore at your own free will, it is easy to get bored of seeing the same old room layout again and again. The game's environment is designed nicely, with the grainy, dark and derelict levels reflecting the story of the abandoned station. The music also fits in with this as well, and the eerie sounds that you hear throughout your journey just do well to add to the mystery and puzzle of the game. Everything adds to the mysterious element that the game thrives on, and whilst it may not be the most graphically advanced game, it doesn't need to be to get its point across.
In terms of achievements, the game has only ten, with each sitting at an even 100G. The achievements in this game are all easily missable, and it is a little too easy to go through the whole game without getting a single one. There are no explanations for these achievements, so delving a little deeper into the TA solutions will teach you that they are for finding each of the ten hidden terminals throughout the game. You will come across them in order as your progress through the basic path the story tries to send you on, finding Number one first
and so on. These terminals are ridiculously hard to find, and you won't come across them in normal play, but luckily the TA faithful have come to the rescue and there are a couple of guides to help you on each one.
is a unique and interesting puzzler, with a story that keeps you intrigued all the way to the end. The clone creating and swapping element to the puzzling is something brand new, and the puzzles themselves are the right balance between too easy and too hard. The game's setting is suitably eerie with music and in-game conversations to match. For £11.99 (or regional equivalent), it feels like the game could be a little longer, but the content of the story and puzzles that you do get, it is still worth swapping your hard earned money for.
- Intriguing story which keeps you playing
- Interesting and unique puzzles
- Can go through the whole game without getting a single achievement
- More story/more to explore would have been nice
The reviewer spent approximately five hours creating clones, solving puzzles and collecting orbs, unlocking all ten of the game's missable achievements. A download code of this game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.