There’s something to be said about the retro graphical style. It’s generally looked upon with criticism and suggestion that it’s a bit of a cop out compared to fully-fledged 2D sprites or 3D models. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP has unmistakably retro graphics, but manages to create such beautiful detail in relatively blocky visuals that it contends and even exceeds most modern indie titles on the market.
Sword & Swordcery is an odd game with no firm plot or backstory. But none of that ever seems to be a problem as you explore this fantastical world and discover new treasures. Game mechanics involve singing the song of sworcery to activate environmental features and using your sword to strike enemies and cut objects.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery Gameplay
Animals especially move with such precision, such realistic detail that it’s really something special seeing a startled deer run into the shrubbery behind it. The rush of a nearby waterfall to the calls of a group of birds, the sound and visuals work together to create such an excellent immersive experience.
Sword & Sworcery EP sacrifices some functionality to get across this minimalist, uninterrupted experience. It took me an age to work out that you can unsheathe your sword by hitting the right mouse button, something that isn’t explicitly explained before and whose on-screen instructions are too faint or too slow to activate to be noticeable.
While the sound and graphics communicate a sense of mystical wonderment, the script is awkwardly colloquial and informal. Phrases like ‘he had the heebie-jeebies’ or ‘he was totally freaking us out’ don’t fit the professional vibe the game tries so hard to create.
Sword and Sworcery contains puzzles that are designed to be very unconventional. It introduces many new incredible concepts which give the game a distinct feel, unlike any I have played before. However, this unpredictability can lead to some moments of complete confusion. Your next step is never clear, and you will have to consult your Megatome (a book that gives you hints on what to do) a lot.
What’s more, some contextual mechanics reset themselves when you exit out of the game which can mean you will have to repeat sections of the game again to get back to where you were at.
Combat is simple, but effective. When engaging in combat, you are able to block with your shield or attack with your sword. By examining enemy movements and patterns, you must use combinations of the two at the right time to knock away hit points from the opposition. It’s not particularly original, but the way it is presented makes keeps it from being repetitive. Unfortunately there are only three identical enemy types to fight against which limits the potential breadth of combat.
Sword and Sworcery’s graphical presentation and immersive sound design can’t be faulted. But this doesn’t relieve it of its gameplay missteps. Some of its puzzles seem to be placed to purposefully waste time and extend the length of the game, and the its unpredictability means that it is sometime very hard to know where to go next. It’s certainly an incredible work of art, with gameplay that’s not far behind, but under par when contrasted with the generally short and limited adventure as a whole.
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Pros: Beautiful presentation, interesting and innovative gameplay mechanics.
Cons: Unguided and unpredictable meaning it’s unclear what to do next sometimes, lazy script, sometimes unintuitive, short.