The Swapper - Review

Author: Andrea Maderna
Date: 2020-07-30 22:31:11
There is a characteristic that tends to distinguish the video game sector from any other, and it is the extreme sense of community, the desire to collaborate, to help each other, to share and to continuously grow as a single body. It may seem obvious, but if you find yourself chatting with people who have worked as much in cinema as in video games, well, sooner or later the moment always comes when this aspect is mentioned. Of course, even here there is no shortage of rivalries, disagreements, dislikes and above all the secrets to be jealously guarded, but you can breathe a different air. Why am I telling this? For this reason it occurred to me to scroll through the list of testers inscribed among the credits of The Swapper and find the names of Jonathan Blow (Braid, The Witness), Alexander Bruce (Antichamber), Petri Purho (Crayon Physics Deluxe ). Will it be for this spirit of a great family, of volemose well (if we are not called Phil Fish), that many masterpieces are born? Go find out. What is certain is that The Swapper is exactly that: another masterpiece.

The Swapper puts you in the shoes of an astronaut trapped on a mysterious planet and committed to discovering the past of the places he explores, while looking for a way to return to his life. The environments to be explored appear mostly deserted, even if there is another human being engaged in some mysterious activity that contacts us on several occasions and scattered around we find bizzare alien creatures, a sort of huge sentient rocks. What lies behind these mysteries is up to the player to discover it gradually, exploring the wide corridors of the structures that host his adventure and gradually solving puzzles and situations that block his advance.

The mute hero is equipped with a technology, called Swapper, which allows him to create clones of himself, for a maximum of four at the same time, that roam the rooms by perfectly replicating his movements, almost as if they were projected images. However, they are completely "physical" creatures, capable of activating switches with their weight and absolutely vulnerable, ready to die in case of falls or for sudden infections of the disease of the huge rock that has fallen on the head. The whole interaction model of the game is based on a barbaric use of these clones, within which the Swapper also allows you to transfer your consciousness, provided you have them in your line of fire. In more complex situations, we therefore find ourselves moving around five identical characters, jumping from direct control of each other and exploiting their positioning to activate switches and overcome obstacles, with lights to put the sticks in the wheels - a depending on their color, the beams block some functions of the Swapper - and of the light globes to act as targets to be collected, necessary to activate various types of mechanisms.

Despite the apparent Metroid-style structure, exploration is actually reduced to the bone and made easier by the map. There are bastard secrets related to achievements, but the heart of the game revolves around the mandatory puzzles.

An intelligent and demanding game structure revolves around the use of the Swapper, full of the kind of puzzles that always manages to clog your brains with satisfaction and thriving "a-ha!" when you understand what was missing. Everything, then, is completely diegetic, inserted in the game world. There is no reset button, if you wrap yourself with clones in the wrong place, you have to physically eliminate them to return to the starting point, which sometimes gives rise to a slight redundancy in operations, but adds solidity to the game world. What really amazes, however, is the perfect way in which the gameplay integrates with the story, the setting and the themes that emerge from the experience.

What does it mean to create a clone, inhabit its body, use it for its own ends and then abandon it to its destiny, causing it to disintegrate, or perhaps observing it as it crashes violently down a precipice? What value does your identity have, when you constantly move from one body to another leaving behind what you once were? Is it really me again, after having abandoned the absurd body that had hosted me for so many years? The Swapper throws these and other speeches on the plate, without exposing them in a pedantic way, but integrating them with great delicacy in the story and above all suggesting them through the gameplay, even before with one (indeed, two: you can choose) among the most beautiful endings, impact, effective that you can think of. Of course, by dint of solving puzzles and abandoning bodies in free fall at the last moment to save their feathers, the death of the clones quickly becomes routine. And yet, that annoying impact of the first time, that dry and brutal noise that The Swapper makes us listen to in the face of the violent crash of one of our clones, accompanies you throughout the adventure and creeps in a disturbing way under the skin, between the fingers that control the mouse. And while you are there that you enjoy the intelligence with which you are solving the puzzles, you also end up a bit 'to be hit by disgust, towards the ease with which you are having "lives". It is bizarre, but the clones of The Swapper perfectly encapsulate the concept of trivial, unimportant lives and deaths, to which the video game has accustomed us for decades, while managing to give them a strong, subtle, stunner value. Not bad, for a simple puzzle game.

Andrea Maderna would greatly appreciate the possibility of creating three or four clones and sharing daily activities with them. What is certain is that if they all make the same gestures, they are of little use. Imitate his gestures on Facebook and Twitter.