Sword and Sworcery!

First of all, let me say (I hate it when people start things off like this, it sounds like they’re giving a graduation speech) that I apologize for missing Friday. In the time that I’ve written this blog, I have never missed a day, so, I dunno what the heck happened. But that’s life, it was probably going to be about something stupid anyway.

Okay. That’s been said! So now you’re all wondering what TODAY’S post is going to be about! “The dude’s had three extra days, it better be frickin’ awesome!” Well, there is good news! While I am my usual extraordinarily witty (and handsome [and modest]) self, the subject matter of my otherwise typically written video game blog is the anything-but-typical-and-really-quite-amazing game “Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP.” Now, if you have an iPad or and iPhone, well whoopty-frickin’-doo for you, you scumbag technophilic Apple-loving sheep! I’m insulting you because this game was released for you more than a year ago, so take your app-hogging bourgeois self to a blog that only has ONE button on its keyboard!

Write a blog with THIS, sucka!

I’m only joking, that’s the jealousy talking. Please stay. Even if you haughtily look down your noses and say that my blog is out of date. (Hint hint, you could probably say that about any other blog post I’ve ever written; when was the last time I referenced a game that HAD come out less than a year ago?) So “Sword and Sworcery” is a game that is basically awesome and very “Indie.” After finishing Bastion and heading on to this game, I can say without any doubt that Indie games are my favorite genre, mainly because there are Indie games of EVERYTHING! You want a zombie game? There’s an Indie game for that. You want a platformer? Indie game. Action RPG? RTS? Zombie platformer action RPG RTS? I’m sure there’s one of those too.

And then there are games that defy the bounds of what has been done before. Sword and Sworcery does that, and makes for an awesome experience while doing it. The game is broken up into “sessions,” which are basically like the chunks of game that are usually separated by save points. This game just makes them separate entirely, narrative included. That’s cool, because I don’t feel weird for playing this game for only half an hour. Doesn’t seem like a long time (especially when you spend 24 hours a day playing Call of Duty), but it’s nice anyway.

To describe this game as “nice” is actually pretty accurate. There’s little emphasis on combat, but when there IS combat, it’s almost as puzzle-based as the puzzles you do outside of combat. It’s very puzzle-based, but I haven’t really ran into any that defy logic or problem-solving. So hooray for puzzle games. If you liked Myst, this is a game you would love. However, the environment’s a little different. It’s a glowing, surreal 2.5-d world that really helps immerse you in the game experience.  Myst was very about the 3-d aspect, and occasionally I think that detracted from the puzzles in the game. No such distraction with S&S, it just plain rocks.

You see my point. Or maybe you don’t…?

Now, that’s the environment. The gameplay is nice, too. It’s relatively intuitive on Windows, and I can only imagine how intuitive it would have been on an iPad. Considering the level of awesome that Superbrothers possesses, it was probably pretty flippin’ easy to pick up. You click on stuff. You solve puzzles. You go through dialogue and eat mushrooms that send you on weird acid trips that I haven’t quite figured out a use for yet. But that’s nice, too. I’ll tell you why!

Look at this title screen. Just LOOK at it!

The songs and sounds part. Jim Guthrie. Do you know what the names of the Superbrothers are? NO! Because the guy who did the sound design for this game is featured MORE PROMINENTLY than the creators! He’s like the Will Smith of video game music, apparently! However, calling it “video game music” is putting it in a nice little box which Jim Guthrie smashes with an enormous digital hammer. His sounds and sound design are integrated so seamlessly into the game that it ceases to be an aural background for the gameplay, and begins to be the gameplay itself. When that happens, you find yourself completely immersed. And that is right where you should be with Swords & Sworcery. It works hard to immerse you in the gaming experience, and I would say that it does so better than any game I’ve ever played. So, kudos to the gamedevs and EXTRA kudos to Jim Guthrie. The musical canvas of this game is so good, it’s unreal.

A note about this whole “immersion” thing: there’s a bit in the game where it mentions that this game is best experienced while relaxed and non-stressed. Boy, are they right. Good news is, the game itself seeks to de-stress you. There are games that stress you (like Dead Space and CoD), and there are games that pretend to destress you by saying something about a “Zen” mode (which really just means “play until you never want to see this game ever again” mode), and then there’s S&S. It actively removes tension from the gamer, and calms you as it immerses and engages you. Never before have I seen a game that does this.

The last thing I have to say about this game is about its dialogue. The dialogue in this game is pretty funny. It’s like you’re in a fantasy world of surfer-dudes. Saying things like “Logfella proceeded to chill out. That’s cool, I guess.” Or, “We woke up that bad demon dude, who is a real party pooper amirite?” It’s great and I regularly get a laugh out of it. However, if you’re thinking in terms of the whole “complete gamer experience with total suspended belief,” the idea of a bunch of “dudes” hashing it out in a fantasy world is absurd. While funny, it was a bit jarring at first. However, as I thought about it and got used to it, I realized something: with the stilted, old-fashioned dialogue of most fantasy novels, you really feel like an outsider looking in. Also, that dialogue is really great at setting conflicts and building tension, two things that this game avoids. So, while it’s not perfect, I believe it’s the best fit for this game (and I’m glad the game developers agree).

So that’s Sword and Sworcery. Get it in the Humble Bundle. Get it on its own! But certainly, if you’re interested in a totally new and unique gaming experience… just get it. 🙂

 

~Another Gamer

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About Isaac Smith

I write about music, technology, video games, and probably many other subjects that don't bear mentioning here. Either way, most of it's worth reading, and you may even enjoy yourself!

Posted on June 11, 2012, in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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