Game Review #069: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Capybara Games
Publisher: Capybara Games
Category: Adevnture, RPG, Action
Release Date: 11.30.2018
Download Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP from the Nintendo eShop here.
Back Before This All Got Started
In 2011, I mainly stuck to retro consoles and my PS3 when I was gaming, but with the App Store being bigger than ever each passing year, and the game library growing, it was sweeping the nation, and trying to convince us old school gamers to get used to it, as it was here to stay. I, at first, fought against the waves, since I had a few classics like Angry Birds and Doodle Jump on my iPad, but didn’t really give them much thought as anything other than time-wasting games I played when I needed to kill 5-10 minutes. But, on the horizon, the developers started to bring more and more games that had weight in the way of gameplay and storyline. In my memory, none was quite like—or has been since compared to—Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.
When it came out, I had never seen anything like it before. At first glance, I noticed it used old school pixelated graphics, which have become so popular over the years, but that was just one of many aspects that allows me to say, comfortably, that it was way ahead of its time. It has crushed the scene, critically speaking, and fans have loved it. I never played through the entire campaign, as I wasn’t a huge fan of mobile gaming. It did eventually work its way on to Steam years later, but now it has finally come to consoles by way of Nintendo Switch, and let me just say, it was worth the wait!
A Man With A Dream
Sometime in 2003, a friendship began to form, as Craig Adams (Superbrothers) sent a postcard with pixelated characters and a note, informing Jim Guthrie that he was a big fan of his music. Jim would then send a burned disc with some unreleased tracks, and they would go on to work on a few small projects together, before finally coming together with Nathan Vella (Capybara Games) to create the game Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP.
Jim Guthrie had been trying to break into the industry as a singer/songwriter, and had aspirations to make soundtracks for movies. Craig Adams was working for the now-closed Toronto branch of Japanese game developer Koei. Nathan Vella was running the relatively unknown Captain Games in Toronto. Now, since the large success of the game, Jim has gone on to work on game and movie soundtracks, Capybara Games have developed several games, and Craig has stayed out of the public eye while working for years on an upcoming secret project.
A Magical Realm Awaits
As we begin the story, you are cast as a nameless female Scythian warrior, who is traveling through the countryside near the Caucasus Mountains on a quest to locate a mystical and powerful book. Along the way, you encounter the friends/companions: a girl named—wait for it—Girl, a wood cutter named Logfella, and finally, a dog named Dogfella. The Scythian warrior convinces Logfella to show her a mysterious passageway. Once the journey begins, events are put into motion that you will spend the next 5-6 hours experiencing. Past that, I don’t want to give anything else away, as one of the main selling points of the game is the beautiful story that unfolds as you play through the campaign. There is also another character, dressed in modern day clothes smoking a cigar. He isn’t in the game, but present as more of a guide. He is "The Archetype", and he not only guides you by telling you to leave the game for a while, after completing a section and before moving on, but also gives you more chunks to the story to give you a better grasp on it.
Gameplay & Fun Factor
You can choose to play the game 3 different ways: with the pro controller, with the Joy-Cons separately (which utilizes the motion sensor and pointer), or you can play it in handheld mode, as it was when it was first released eight years ago. If you choose to play it in handheld mode, I would recommend highly that you use earphones, and if you play docked, I would close the door, shut the blinds, and have a decent sound system. As you may get what I’m hinting at, the soundtrack is a huge part of the gaming experience, which I will touch on more a bit later. As I began playing, I could see how this game drew inspiration from games like The Legend of Zelda and Another World, with the gameplay and beautiful pixel art. I played mostly in docked mode with a pro controller, and it plays perfectly!
At its core, S&S is a point-and -click adventure, with puzzle elements, and even a fighting system. The fighting system is inspired heavily by Punch Out, and it works to break the normal gameplay and add in a different element. The one thing I did notice that I wasn’t crazy about was, at some point, I was just clicking everything, trying to find out how to set off the next portion of the game to move forward; but in saying that, it never distracted me from the game, and none of the puzzles were too difficult. When you reach certain points, though, you have to wait to activate certain puzzles by something as simple as the time of day. All these different mixes of gameplay really added to the overall game.
While on your journey, you will interact with characters and items, and each time you do, dialogue is displayed. The dialogue sticks out like a sore thumb, as it doesn’t seem to fit into the magical and mysterious land you are exploring. The dialogue is more modern, but also comes off as a bit pretentious; but, as you will learn while playing, everything is intended to be exactly as you see it. It all works out perfectly, and just fuels the whole experience.
Audio & Visuals
The visuals are gorgeous 8-bit pixelated graphics that translate very well. As I said before, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP was made back in 2011, before it was all the rage to use the 8-bit and 16-bit graphics for nostalgic effect. Most of the time, it came off very minimalistic, but still seemed very well-done, but then, at times, it was just brilliantly put together. Even something as simple as a reflection in the water really pops, showing the true level of detail.
The audio is the true star here, as it takes the game to an entirely new level that has people saying that it’s a game you experience more than play. I tend to disagree, though, and think that this is a game that uses everything to bring it all together. It even has EP in the title, as this is seen as an album filled with progressive rock and synth music, that is laid out over this magical interactive graphic novel. Jim Guthrie pours his heart into his music, and it is felt. You even get to meet the music man himself in the game, as you jam along together. This is a soundtrack you will be digging into as soon as the game is over.
Back in 2011, this game was adored by many, and became a critical darling. A year later, it released on Steam to the same praise, and now in 2018, Nintendo Switch owners can finally play and fall in love with this game. It is truly a masterful experience. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a must play game that has a great story and amazing music throughout.
Final Score: 9/10
Download Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Fortyseven Communciations