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Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (Switch) Review

by Anna Saurman Brown - December 10, 2018, 6:47 am PST
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7.5

The 2011 iOS game comes to Switch, though it's really only meant for handheld mode.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP shows you its brand right at first glance. The page site is filled with pixelated artwork, all with intriguing nature themes and muted tones. You get a sense that there is some cool, artsy stuff going on. It’s also branding itself musically, not only is EP literally in the title but Jim Guthrie composed all the music for the game. Altogether, these details set the expectations for a complete experience, both aesthetically and aurally.

The structure is set up as sessions, where you play as The Scythian: a girl who is searching for the Megatome and to reassemble the Trigon Trifecta. These sessions are introduced by The Archetype, a man with a cigar that is kind of what I imagine as a supremely chill J. Jonah Jameson. Once you acquire the Megatome, he can talk to you while you’re in the sessions, and offer help or guidance. This proves to be useful when you start wandering around trying to figure out what you need to do next.

And you should expect some aimless wandering: Sword and Sworcery walks a fine line between plot, combat, exploration, and puzzles. Some of the goals are a little formulaic, but enough of the particulars change that you have you be paying attention to everything told to you if you want to keep moving the story forward. On the other hand, the game uses real-time moon cycles and it plays a large part in achieving your goals. There are a few ways to get around this, one “legal” and one not, but if you happen to achieve some goals out of order the legal way may no longer be an option for you, and either waiting a month or “cheating” are your only options (not saying that happened to me, but it may have happened to me). So while you are helped along by the game, you are also meant to follow their rules, which sometimes means waiting.

One downside to Sword and Sworcery on Switch is ironically something that’s a big part of its brand: the artwork. While the pixelated style is very cool, it doesn’t translate well to a TV screen that is several feet away. Similar to impressionism, details start to blend together at longer distances, and all the text gets challenging to read – most so in the Megatome, but the standard narration as well. But what’s great about the Switch, as I’m sure you’ve figured out from all those great commercials, is that you can play the game in handheld form. Honestly the handheld option was the saving grace for me, because otherwise I probably would have had to sit directly in front of the television like when we pull out the NES Classic. Of course, this was originally a mobile game, so it really was intended for close-up viewing. It’s hard enough to make a good video game, let alone one that becomes the Babel fish of gaming platforms. So while I’m not blaming the creators for this flaw, you really can only play it well in handheld form.

Sword and Sorcery has some great, unique storytelling elements that give the game a chill yet mildly creepy vibe, though I assure that’s a good thing. From the quirky names (Logfella – the woodsman/farmer type, Dogfella – your dog, Gogolithic Mass – creepy antler dude) to the surreal, earthy, and dreamy atmosphere, to the utmost commitment to using second person narration, Sword and Sworcery portrays an off-the-beaten path story with intrigue galore. If you’re looking for all of this in a handheld game experience, Sword and Sworcery will be the perfect fit for you.

Summary

Pros
  • Cool art and music
  • Good storytelling
  • In-game hint system
Cons
  • Art becomes less cool on the TV
  • Real-time moon cycles can leave you hanging for weeks

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Game Profile

Genre Adventure
Developer
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP
Release Nov 30, 2018
RatingTeen
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