Platforms PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita [Previously on PC]
Publisher/Developer Facepalm Games/Curve Studios
Genre Puzzle Platformer Platform Played PlayStation 4
The Swapper was one of 2013’s best titles, while also producing some of the most intelligent puzzle design in recent memory. Following the critical praise of the original PC release, Facepalm Games (the original studio) and Curve Studios have collaborated to bring the exquisite puzzle platformer to PlayStation platforms. The collaboration has worked wonders, with the PlayStation version of The Swapper bringing the original excellence to PS owners, flawlessly.
The PlayStation version of The Swapper utilises Cross-Buy/Cross-Save functionality, allowing owners to transfer their Swapper journey between PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 4. The PS release doesn’t offer any extra content from the original PC version, which means those who have already experienced The Swapper’s brilliant adventure may find little incentive to replay; though Trophy support has been included, replicating the same Steam Achievements that were available originally to help increase the replay value.
The main difference between both releases is the control scheme, which has moved from keyboard-and-mouse to the DualShock 4. Impressively, the new system works well, with the ability to alter the sensitivity of your analogue sticks to help find a perfect balance of speed and fluidity also included. The DualShock 4 actually helps improve one of my main issues from the original release – exploring the map. Using the DualShock 4’s analogue sticks to explore the Metroidvania-styled map is a breeze, and improves on the clunky nature I experienced when utilising the K&M setup.
The Swapper is a puzzle game at heart, and an impressively challenging one at that. Using the swapper device, players are able to make up to four clones of themselves, and switch their conscious mind between each clone. The brilliance here is that the swapper device is the only apparatus given to you throughout the game; to keep the puzzles fresh, new elements are also added, which continuously increase the difficulty. From coloured smoke that may prevent you from spawning a clone or make your swapper device useless, to more difficult additions such as the manipulation of gravity, The Swapper always feels fresh and new throughout the 5 hour campaign.
Completing each puzzle grants you orbs which will allow you to further explore the desolate space station that you will spend the entirety of The Swapper. The genuine difficulty and excellent design of these puzzles come into their element late in the game, where some puzzles can leave you scratching your head for hours at a time, only to be solved in a matter of moments. Though these provide a challenge, the goal never feels out-of-reach, and the frustration is lacking due to the instant respawns after death. Each death furthers your quest to completing each puzzle, making each demise a learning experience to your eventual success.
During The Swapper, players control a nameless character, one who has ventured to an abandoned space station for reasons unknown. Throughout the experience, The Swapper aims to raise the question of morality, and instead of answering this question for us, it allows the player to determine their own answers along the way. Finding out the mysterious disappearance of the space stations’ entire populous becomes a strong motivation, with only small information given on abandoned consoles around the space station. The balance between providing excellent puzzles and an endearing narrative is one few puzzle platformers have nailed throughout the years, but The Swapper does this with pure class.
The Swapper’s environment houses a tremendous sense of atmosphere, due to the loneliness of the space station. The atmospheric environment is greatly benefited by a beautiful yet ominous soundtrack, one that helps emphasise the disturbing elements of your surroundings. The attention to audio detail is also used to great effect when your copies fall to their death. The sounds of your clones’ skeleton cracking as they hit the surface below may be abrupt, but the brutalisation of the act you just performed on your own character or their copy feels immense.
The PlayStation 4 version of The Swapper looks great, easily rivaling the visuals from the original PC release. The Swapper doesn’t aim to push the graphical fidelity of next-generation consoles, but it does offer a completely unique visual style. Every piece of environment has been created using every-day materials and clay models; the effect leaves a familiar world, which also feels very alien at the same time.
Unfortunately our unnamed character still suffers from wonky character animations, making our actions feel stiff and unnatural. Though it certainly doesn’t harm the experience, some improvements to the character animation would have been an added compliment for the PlayStation experience.
When The Swapper originally launched for PC last year, I was completely enamoured by the excellent experience on offer. Though the PlayStation version doesn’t offer any new content – which may leave those who have experienced the original release without reason to return – the ability to experience such an amazing title on console is great for those who haven’t experienced The Swapper’s brilliance before.
The PlayStation 4 release of The Swapper is as challenging, atmospheric, and wonderful as the original PC release.
- Excellent PlayStation port
- The question of your own morality
- Difficult puzzles that are continuously challenging
- No new content
The Score: 9.3