On the surface, The Swapper appears to be your typical puzzle-platformer, but there is so much more here than what meets the eye. The game takes place on an abandoned space station. It is apparent that something tragic took place here and you are one of the survivors of this catastrophic event.
Developer Facepalm does an absolutely fantastic job of telling the story. The game doesn't hold your hand and explain everything to you. Instead the limited dialogue gives you small tidbits of details and encourages you to search out the remaining pieces to solve the mystery of the game.
One of my favorite aspects of this game is how mechanically simple it is. There isn't a leveling up system, a robust skill tree, or even enemies for that matter. Early in the game you come across the titular gun that will be your only means of progress for the remainder of your journey. This gun has two unique functions: you can make clones of yourself and, if needed, you can transfer your consciousnesses into these clones. These two functions alone are your only means to solving the game's complex puzzles.
With such a simple design, I figured the puzzles couldn't be too difficult, and early on I was right. The first hour or so I was flying through puzzles. Soon after, though, the difficulty was cranked up a notch, leaving me scratching my head in some areas for hours. Puzzles force you to use all of your clones to perfection. Puzzle rooms are filled with all sorts of hazards and tools that can be used to your advantage. I usually pride myself in not seeking outside help in puzzle games but to Facepalm's credit, a couple of these cleverly crafted puzzles got the better of me.
I loved the real-life questions that The Swapper asks. Every clone you create eventually has to die; whether it be purposely in order to complete a puzzle or accidentally, you still are killing a form of yourself. I found myself questioning if what I was doing was the right thing to do. Do the ends justify the means? Is it OK to murder myself? Is this even technically considered murder? Maybe it's a form of suicide. Questions like these go beyond just a simple game. I was questioning my own personal morals. The game does a superb job at blurring the line between right and wrong.
This is an aesthetically beautiful title. The eerie environments are akin to other games such as Dead Space. The dark tone of the story mixes well with the environments that surround it. Outside of the gorgeous art style, the game's score also caught my attention. The music that graciously plays in the background has a saddened tone to it that created an immersive feeling to this already mesmeric experience.
Initially, The Swapper only managed to gain my curiosity, but as I progressed further through the game, I began to realize I was playing something special. Facepalm Games has created a fantastic puzzle-platformer and coupled it with a story that not only delivers but makes the player questions their own morals even after the credits roll. This is the type of absorbing experience that great games are build upon.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09