The Swapper – First Play

The idea of being cloned is one that appeals to many people for various reasons. This is the premise for upcoming indie video-game, The Swapper, which is being published by Curve Studios and was originally developed by Facepalm Games.

The main character is able to create up to four clones, and swap between clones to control through a variety of puzzles. The area I explored during the preview demonstration was a dark mine that felt similar to the one in Double Fine’s The Cave. Yet, the cave within this title is much darker in a way that makes it far more tempting to explore. It’s difficult to resist wondering what lies beyond the many narrow tunnels connecting the wider areas of the cave.

On the PlayStation 4, it’s looking fantastic and is definitely making good use of the hardware. It’s not quite as easy on the eye when displayed on the Vita’s touch screen, but there is no doubt that both of the versions shown were still great to look at.

It just goes to show that sometimes a subtle approach is just as memorable. From the get go, it’s clear that there are very few instructions to follow. The idea is that players are in control of the character. The cloning tool is given and it seems like it’s then up to the player to figure out where to go. It’s plausible to think that being given the freedom of creating clones and controlling them will make solving puzzles far too easy. However, this is the complete opposite given the various limitations put in place.

Scattered throughout the cave are differently coloured lights. Each one represents a new way of restricting the use of the cloning ability. A red light will make it impossible to move a clone directly by means of mind transfer. Instead, this clone will move automatically as the original character is moved. A puzzle involving this consisted of attempting to hold down a switch, so the character could continue the journey. Not such an easy task in an area where the red light effect was enabled.

Making use of the cloning ability is very straightforward. It’s only a matter of directing the pointer on to a platform to make a clone appear, unless there is a blue light effect enabled which will make it impossible to place clones in the area.

Experiencing all of these ideas gave the impression that lights have a symbolic use within The Swapper. They are the tools used to ensure that the cloning ability isn’t overpowered or abused. This way it’s possible that anyone playing through will feel like each puzzle is a worthy challenge. It’s certainly an interesting idea and one that will perhaps get better if more colours are introduced.

Each clone seems to have a limited range and often it’s necessary to sacrifice them for the sake of progress. Still, it’s almost sad to sacrifice a clone and watch it die in the most excruciating manner. Their sacrifice is not in vain, though. If the main character dies then it is simply the matter of restarting from a fairly recent checkpoint.

Those interested in cross-play functionality will no doubt like the fact that cloud backed up save files will work on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita systems.

If anything, what I played of the Swapper ended up being quite a remarkable experience. One that has the potential to get even better if given the opportunity to progress beyond the constraints set by the demonstration.

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