BY TOM KEMPSON
Eerie, omnipotent and chilling.
These are the feelings that horror games attempt to push through to your finger tips. Games that market themselves as such, tend not to live up to the hype or expectations held by seasoned gamers looking to feel such sensations.
The Swapper is an indie game developed by two students of the University of Helsinki (Otto Hantula and Olli Harjola) and was developed in their spare time.
It’s a puzzle game and you use your swapper device, to make up to four clones of yourself at any given time. As well as this, you can teleport between these four depending on the puzzle situation.
In some puzzles there are coloured lights shining which indicate that you cannot create, teleport or a combination of the 3. This creates a lot of diversity instead of just giving you the tool, the puzzles really make you think, and feel smart after conquering it after making many failed attempts.
It successfully blends both an eerie and chilling atmosphere and narrative with carefully strung together puzzles that implement the ideology of having an expansive map that you explore in a side-on view. As you complete these challenging puzzles, the story will slowly piece together the events that occurred before your untimely arrival.
The Swapper’s opening depicts the main character being forced into an escape pod, landing you on an abandoned space station. After a few neatly displayed tutorial notes, you must traverse an expansive space ship which has been abandoned by the previous crew.
Being the Wii U version, there are a few additional small features that utilise the GamePad. While in previous versions of this game, you are not able to look at the map of the game without stopping to pause.
The Wii U edition introduces a convenient map displayed on the GamePad, with a few touch features that make reading the various diary entries and map traversal all the easier. As well as map controls the GamePad also allows you to control many features of the game using the touch screen also. While I personally prefer using buttons, these touch controls were responsive and convenient, making for an accessible experience if buttons are an issue for a less experienced user.
Its art direction is quite macabre as the space station has been left in a semi-working state, with odd organic plants surrounding areas to show that time has passed.
Almost everything in the game themselves was crafted in clay and then digitally edited to make for a very isolated but ultimately fitting landscape. As well as the clay based visuals the sound scape connects with the artwork by combining subtle machine wurrings with clinks and clangs, as you wait for the inevitable jump scare (that never comes).
All in all, The Swapper is an indie gem. The Wii U GamePad features justify getting it on the system as opposed to others simply because of how convenient the map is as well as the GamePad almost serving as a piece of the game itself, dishing out cheesy sci-fi log entries.
I went into this game with no expectation whatsoever and the narrative hooks have pulled me in and carry on feeding me little bits of information while I attempt to solve the mystery of “The Watchers”.Tweet