The Swapper Review (Wii U eShop)

The Swapper is an exceptional indie game, wonderfully crafted and presented in stunning 1080p/60fps. That’s a big step up form the versions of this game available on other console platforms. There’s not much I can say about a game that’s already been available for over a year, and the Wii U version isn’t much different providing a GamePad map, off-tv play and touch screen control integration. The Swapper is nothing revolutionary when it comes to a Wii U port, but the game is identical in feel and gameplay to its original release.

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Before you begin solving puzzles, The Swapper builds an enormous sense of atmosphere. It’s dark, unsettling, tense, and almost creepy. As you explore an abandoned space station, the game’s overall presence multiplies as the story evolves. The way the game gives the players an eerie feeling by only utilizing the environment is incredible. It’s surprising that half of the experience of this puzzle game isn’t even the puzzles, but rather you finding yourself sucked into the story and environment. The clay-molded graphics provide a very unique and detailed world. You’ll find yourself stopping to observe the surroundings during puzzles and in-between sections of the station.

The Swapper has a very unique mechanic for solving puzzles. Using the “Swapper Device”, you can create up to 5 clones, soon after transferring your “consciousness” into one of them. Once you’ve created your clones, you’ll gain the ability to take control of them. Colored light will restrict creation of clones, transferring control, or even both at times. While all of your clones will move and jump at the same time, only your “Active” clone can create other clones, transfer control and ultimately collect orbs (your prize for completing puzzles). You use these orbs to open up more of the space station to explore in metroidvania fashion. The station is mazelike in a sense and definitely an enormous one at that. Luckily, you’ll have long range transporters to help you traverse the map. At the beginning of the game, you won’t have access to your long range teleporters however (a common trend in many games with large worlds). Instead, you’ll unlock it later in the game alongside many other handy tools.

You’ll need a certain amount of orbs to continue at certain points, though you can skip some of the more difficult puzzles mid/late-game by handing over orbs. The number of orbs you’ll need to hand over for each level you need to skip increases over time too, encouraging you to find a solution instead of finding the easy way out. That is, until you reach the end. You need ALL orbs to finish the game. Many would think that this would make the game too difficult to complete, but The Swapper has a powerful and thought-provoking ending that’s quite rewarding.

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The game forces you to think deeply as The Watchers share cryptic and very profound thoughts with you. In the beginning you are very weary about making and ultimately killing your clones, having to sacrifice many to complete these puzzles. And even as it gets easier to do, you’ll find yourself wincing at the sound of breaking bones when a clone dies a painful death. By the end of the game, you’re just a copy of a copy of a copy (and so on). Are you even the same person anymore? Do the ends really justify the means? The Swapper is one of the few games that really captures the human element of things better than most. Most of the constant uneasiness that you feel while playing isn’t the dark atmosphere or soundtrack, but the decisions you have to make. The fact that people who thought they were acting in the best interests had unfortunate consequences for everyone.

The Swapper is an example of the type of profound story that video games in general need more of. Not the kind that go for an epic wow factor, but turn the experience inward, and ultimately have you compare that experience to your own life. It’s very rare for a game (especially for a puzzle game) to present such an overall level of satisfaction in all areas, but it hits all the right points. That’s why I’m giving The Swapper a 9/10.

The Swapper Review (Wii U eShop)
Pros
  • Labyrinthine Atmosphere
  • Fantastic Story
  • Clever Puzzles
Cons
  • High Endgame Difficullty
  • Mediocre Touch Controlls
9Overall Score
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About The Author

Game Reviewer
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While I might not look all that impressive, I'll have you know that I've rescued many princesses and kingdoms while wielding various mythical blades in the process. In my off-time however, I'm an avid video game collector with over 300+ games. Everything from Atari 2600 to now! In short: Full-time cool dude, Part-time slacker.