The game is called The Swapper because you are able to clone, swap and control souls in this side-scrolling puzzle platformer. This indie gem, developed by Facepalm Games, graced the PC last year. Now, one year later, it is available on PS4, PS3, and PS Vita.
The Swapper takes place at an unknown time in the future when humanity has exhausted their natural resources. The ship that you arrive on is called Theseus, and it was one of seven space stations sent to distant space to obtain and extract useful resources to bring back to earth. The crew of Theseus is sent to an uninhabitable desert planet called Chori V. Among discovered mineral deposits, they come across interesting sets of rock formations, but these are not just normal rock formations.
Now jump ahead, you play an unnamed, voiceless character who is stranded on the now abandoned space station Theseus. Who your character is, why he or she is here, and why this space station is abandoned are all mysteries to you. You soon find the tool that you will become all too familiar with over the course of the game. This tool was created by unknown technology on this very ship, but what does it do exactly? The Swapper allows you to create clones of yourself and transfers your consciousness between them.
Unlike most puzzle games, The Swapper doesn’t introduce new gameplay mechanics over time, instead it shows you how to use the device, then proceeds to create ingenious puzzle designs from this one mechanic. The puzzles start off simple enough. An early example of one of the game’s puzzles would be you having to create a clone on a ledge that you can’t reach. You will need to switch your consciousness to grab the orb and then exit the room. The orbs in this game are your reward for each puzzle you complete. The more orbs you collect, the more the world opens up, allowing you to progress. As the world opens up, the puzzle designs get increasingly harder and complex. I would be lying to you if I told you that some of the puzzles didn’t break my brain. There was one in particular toward the very end that I was stuck on for over an hour, and in classic puzzle game fashion, it seemed all too obvious once I finally figured it out.
The Swapper is a very focused game. It wants you to be wrapped up in its eerie atmosphere, and its gorgeous world. Its gameplay focuses on its one sole mechanic, and the only time it ever deviates is when it has you float through outside space areas. These sections can feel somewhat tedious, but they are few and far between and never feel like they take away from the overall package. The only other knock I have against the game is its length. It is around four hours, not including the time you may or may not get stuck. There is also almost no replay value outside of an alternate ending. These are tiny complaints though to what is an amazing game.
The Swapper is much more than an outstanding puzzle game. It is an atmospheric walk through an unknown world that tells you an interesting, and thought-provoking story that makes you question morality. The first time you watch one of your lifeless clones fall to its death shortly after you took its consciousness away, just to put it in a different body is a hollow experience. It makes you think what exactly it means to have a soul. Those feelings never quite go away as you unravel the mysteries of this abandoned ship. In fact, they haunt you throughout this journey, and by the very fitting end of this game you’ll be glad you braved this adventure. If you have even a passing interest in puzzle games, you owe it to yourself to pick up this excellent game. This is a game that will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.