Like some popular art pieces, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is beautiful yet incredibly abstract.
This pixel art adventure sets you up as ‘wandering warrior monk’ introduced to the game by The Archetype, who acts as a guide throughout the various chapters and key points Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is divided into. The dialogue from The Archetype and all other characters within the game is something of pure genius in my opinion. It can sometimes be a bit confusing though, there were indeed a few times I had to google a word to put things either into context or to find out if the word was born within the game. Mixed in with all this clever text though is good ol’ slang that helps ease the serious tone and worked in so well that it doesn’t feel out of place in the incredibly articulate writing style.
Characters such as DogFella and Logfella act as your guide as you search for the Megatome. The Megatome being a magical book that helps steer you through the game acting as a journal for you to view past conversations refer back to major points. Only after completing the first chapter of the game the meaning of your adventure begins to take form, and you must find and collect/destroy the 3 triforce… *cough* Trigon pieces and restore peace to the land. All whilst being chased by a rather menacing shadow presence.
As you progress through the game the moon and its current state plays a major part to locating the Trigons, without giving too much away I’ll say some have manipulated the game by changing the time and date settings on the iPad, but if you’re a true explorer you’ll find that this is unnecessary and all the answers you need do in fact lay within the game.
Although epic, the adventure is short lived, and can be completed in about 2-3 hours with little replay value. Sword & Sworcery is most certainly a labour of love, the attention to detail to far beyond the benchmark found in many other games… Even more so because it’s heavy on pixel art. It may look like pixel art taken to an extreme level, but when playing the game and watching every little thing around you come to life, it can at times, surprisingly, take your breath away.
Sharing your progress with friends is easy with Twitter integration, if you like to spam your friends twitter feed with posts that will mean absolutely nothing to the reader. Unless the reader is playing or has played Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP they will be utterly dumbfounded by your tweets. Suffice to say, I didn’t use this ‘feature’.
Combat is also a lot more scarce then I would have liked. When a battle begins you’ll be prompted to turn the iPad round to commence fighting, although a nice addition, completely uncalled for, when the iPhone version is released this would make more sense, as the iPhone is a much smaller device, but spinning the iPad just feels pointless when you have a beautiful landscape screen for the majority. You have two options in fights, block or strike and the key to winning is to figure out the enemy’s pattern and strike when they leave themselves open. Most battles will play out similar except for the Trigon combat. You’re met with a lengthy cutscene that evolves into a more complex tap to the timing strategy, the Trigon battles are by far the best in the game, but damn, when you die you have to watch the entire cutscene again without the ability to skip! If you’re like me and it took you at least 5 attempts on the first Trigon fight, you’ll simply either quit out, or the only thing you’ll be putting a sword through is the iPad itself.
The further you continue throughout Sword & Sworcery the more confusing the story can become, which did leave me wondering at times if I was still playing a game or if I was going through somebody’s art portfolio. You tend to have to revisit a lot of locations that will then either have a change in weather or slightly different environment activity which you would expect adds to mixing things up a bit, but it doesn’t.
The engaging and complex writing style coupled with the tone set by the incredibly ambient music and sound effects is let down by the game’s length and limited, sometimes repetitive surroundings. If you’re a patient gamer that likes to sit comfortable and slowly make their way through a story at their own pace then this is the choice for you! I have no doubt that this game will become an iOS cult classic, but maybe not for reasons related directly to gaming, and instead more in line with my opening statement… as an art piece.