Thoughts on Sword & Sworcery EP

Okay, the full name of this game is Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, I know. That's because the art is made by Craig "Superbrothers" Adams, and because the music (by Jim Guthrie) plays an important part here (hence the EP), and because the game consists mostly of swordsmanry and sorcery. Whew.
It was released on iPad, followed by iPhone, followed by PC (version tested) and almost immediately gained worshippers everywhere. In this post I'm going to tell you how much I didn't like this game.

So what's it about? You play as Scythian, a female warrior. There are a few locations, a few characters to interact with, a few puzzles and very few items. It plays like a streamlined adventure game, in which you mostly click on things and see what happens. There's also some swordfighting involved - enjoyable, but just for a while.
I wrote about Blackwell games recently and praised them for streamlining the genre, but it's gone too far in Sworcery. They stripped the enjoyable bits as well. Let's take a look at the most basic thing: puzzles. Almost all of them revolve around clicking on certain objects in certain order. I beat most of them by clicking randomly on these objects. Maybe there actually is some thought behind them (explaining the particular click order), but I noticed it in just one puzzle. So this part of the game was equally boring and frustrating, as "solving" these puzzles isn't rewarding at all.
Apart from it you'll be walking a lot. While I enjoyed the animations, it wasn't enough to keep me engaged in long walks.

But! These things aren't the core of Sworcery, you'll say. It's all about the atmosphere, the wackiness, about exploring this world, music and graphics. Ok.
I didn't like the graphics. It certainly is specific and distinct from "regular" pixel art. But it also has a washed-out color palette and tends to shape everything from rectangles, which makes everything look very similar. Fortunately, music is just great and I listen to the soundtrack quite often. One can hear bits of IDM, chiptunes or even post-rock here. It's very eclectic, enjoyable and totally worth a purchase. (it's already inclued in the Steam version of S&S)
Let's get on to this wackiness!
Sworcery is split into a few episodes. In-between them you'll meet the Narrator. He breaks the fourth wall a few times and speaks directly to you, the player (art!). He tells you how much it will take to complete a certain episode and encourages you to take a break when you finish it. At some point the game even suggests you to take a two-week break to complete a single task. That's pretty brilliant, actually. I felt that someone here cares about my time and strives to provide the best experience. I love being suggested how to approach a specific game to make the most out of it, even if it's a simple text like "Play in a dark room with your headphones on" in Amnesia.
But this goes too far at times. The Narrator implies (numerous times) that it's very important to... turn on Twitter integration. Every line of text in the game fits in a single tweet and you are allowed (and sometimes encouraged) to tweet it. While it's an interesting idea, I found the writing to be rather bad. Its overuse of plural forms and slang makes it irritating at least. Someone wants you to look for a thing: "Not another fetch quest amirite?" (which is followed by a fetch quest, yes, and stating it beforehand doesn't make it any better). You find the Megatome artifact at some point: "We found the Megatome & we are awesome" (Tweet this!). Oh, the Megatome. It's a book that allows you to read every character's thoughts. They show up in the Megatome just like status updates on Twitter or Facebook. This got me excited; it was very interesting to talk to someone and then check out his "thought updates" about our talk.
Unfortunately, it quickly boils down from Thoughtter to HintBook, as the characters seem to think only about helping you in your tasks or boss fights. Pity! I hoped that Twitter integration would somehow be connected to the Megatome, but no. It doesn't have any gameplay meaning. In fact, the whole social aspect of Sworcery didn't seem to have any meaning to me. "Let's comment on social media by putting it into our game & we are awesome!"

Actually, that pretty much sums up my experience with Sworcery. It's like the developers telling me that they're all awesome and force me to watch their awesomeness in action. And that it's art and I should tell all my Twitter friends about it. It even has a bear with a penis which hums like a man, so it's definitely art.
And I think it's just very self-righteous.

But follow me on Twitter, will you?

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