Facepalm Games’ The Swapper is an interesting, if not creepy and atmospheric side-scrolling platformer. The basic gist of the game involves creating clones of yourself in order to solve puzzles. That sounds easy enough, right? Well, what if I told you that you’re also on a severely damaged space station and are desperately trying to find any means of escape possible? Certainly that amps up the excitement factor a bit more, eh? Just to provide a little bit of background here, this title was actually created by two university students in Finland (Otto Hantula and Olli Harjola). It just goes to show you the power of the indie market as well as Sony’s foresight to cater to the interests and desires of those who might have grown a bit bored with the mainstream gaming environment.
As many will be apt to point out (perhaps immediately), this is indeed one of those “metroidvania” style games, where you will be essentially required to backtrack through portions of levels and so forth. Naturally, this isn’t really anything new, veteran gamers have been doing this sort of thing for decades now and it never really seems to get old. However, the way in which this is done mixed with the overall slick presentation makes “The Swapper” all the more immersive. All in all, it seems to have drawn lots of inspiration from Dead Space, where a mysterious force acting through unknown means seems to have infiltrated the minds of the crew of the Theseus (the space station you’re on), somehow urging many humans to experiment with the emergent cloning technology. In other words, once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down until you’ve completed the entire storyline.
Visually speaking, The Swapper looks pretty fantastic, especially when you consider it is indeed an independently developed title. Again, the lighting and detail really accent the gameplay and nature of the puzzles it presents, as you’re cloning your character and navigating a few screens you’ll quickly discover that this game is very “finely tuned” in terms of its overall difficulty. Wherever you are in one individual map you are limited to creating four copies of yourself at any given time. This restriction basically sets the mark for the depth and style of puzzles you are going to encounter. As expected, the real star of the show is the level design itself, which is perfectly merged with the gameplay to yield room after room of tricky and fun little brainteasers.
Again however, what ties everything together is a very neat science fiction-imbued plot which finds human beings discovering an unknown alien civilization (obviously to disastrous effect). As you progress, more and more details are unveiled whereupon the immersion factor is greatly enhanced as a result. By the time you reach the game’s conclusion you will most assuredly be left spellbound.
Fans of side scrollers will definitely want to play The Swapper as it stands as one of the stronger entries for the genre. Additionally, those who love sci-fi or want to try out an indie platformer would do well to check it out.