Developer: Facepalm Games
Release Date: 5/30/2013
Available Exclusively On
The Good: The Swapper is a great puzzle device, puzzle elements feel fresh and new, eerie atmosphere, interesting story, great graphics
The Bad: Some puzzles are too obscure, no replay value, ending falls flat, not much to do between puzzle solving
Being on a strange alien planet, you are tasked with the mission of using a device called The Swapper to escape, you must free yourself from this foreign alien race. The problem is, these aliens aren’t alive, they are a gathered mass conscious. The space station you are on is home to research and experimentation on these beings as well as The Swapper. As the story goes on you find out who’s responsible for The Swapper and why everyone died. The game has an eerie atmosphere with mind-bending puzzles.
The main mechanic of this device is being able to clone yourself. You can make up to four copies, and these are used to solve intriguing puzzles. Holding down the right mouse button will show a red outline of your clone so you know where you’re going to place it. The left mouse button lets you transport your soul into that clone allowing you to control it. It’s not always as easy as that. Colored lights play a big role in the game. Blue allows you to teleport but you can’t place clones, red is the opposite. Purple doesn’t allow you to do either. Sometimes lights are blocking buttons, paths, and most importantly the orbs you need to collect to make it through the space station. There are 124 orbs in the whole game and about 30 puzzles. Each puzzle is completely different, but later in the game, one other major element gets introduced.
That element is gravity, and with it being introduced so late in the game, it actually extends the longevity of the game. Instead of getting bored early on, you have to now use gravity which makes the puzzles that much harder. Walking upside down to place an upside down clone on a button, only to teleport to it, place another clone, then find out how to get yourself right side up without dropping all the clones. The tricky thing is that all the clones will follow you. Movement plays a big puzzle solving role as well. The Swapper is a very innovative game and one of the most original since Portal.
The story elements are told through some voice work, but it’s only from one woman. She follows you throughout the ship and later tells you how to get out. The rest is told through logs that you find throughout your journey. The atmosphere is very eerie with dark visuals and the feeling of being alone and scared. The only issues lie in the fact that some puzzles are just way too hard to figure out. They are very unbalanced ranging from really easy to suddenly super hard. I had to use a video walkthrough to solve some of them, and they were so complicated, I never would have figured them out on my own. That’s the biggest problem with all puzzle games, you have to have balance. There are some puzzles where the solution is right in front of your face, but others not so much.
There’s also very little replay value, you need to complete all the puzzles to finish the game, and there’s no time trials or anything like that. Once you finish it you’re pretty much done and will never come back. The story is also a bit flat towards the end, you never really find out what these aliens are and what they want. What’s here is fun and very original, but it needs a bit more to stand up to puzzle games like Portal.