Tag Archives: The Swapper

The Fall (Review)

As The Fall begins, we see an astronaut free falling through space, crash-landing on a seemingly abandoned planet. The astronaut is rendered unconscious, so the combat suit’s artificial intelligence, ARID, takes over. ARID’s prime operating parameter is that she must protect her active pilot, so she sets out on a strange and dangerous journey to find medical attention.

The Fall - mission parameters not found

The Fall is the first effort by Over The Moon Games, and what a game it is. It deftly combines great dialogue, eerie atmosphere, and intelligent story-telling to create one of the best games I’ve played lately. Gameplay combines point-and-click adventure puzzles with side-scrolling shooting action. The combination felt a little odd at first but once I got the hang of it, it worked really well. The amount of combat isn’t excessive, but it helps keep the pace of the game on track, breaking up exploration and inventory puzzles with cover and timing-based action.

The controls are a bit unintuitive at first, but didn’t take too long to get used to. Items are examined by pointing the flashlight on your gun at them using the mouse, while actions are taken using the keyboard. The puzzles can be challenging, though the solutions make sense. If you find yourself stuck, you’ve likely missed an object – exploration is important.

The Fall shooting at a robot

Story is where The Fall really shines. Damage has rendered a number of ARID’s functions inoperable and a big part of the game involves regaining access to those abilities. However, getting past obstacles often requires going against her other operating parameters. This raises a number of questions about artificial intelligence. Is this AI just a computational series of rules and protocols or can a machine display general intelligence? Can it have free will? What happens when a machine acts contrary to its programming?

One of the most clever parts of the game had ARID undergoing tests in order to prove her worth as a domestic robot so she could continue on her journey. These tests involved seemingly simple things – setting the table, calming a crying baby – but all involved some very creative problem solving as ARID is not programmed to be a domestic robot. The way the “humans” in the test treat her also raises concerns about roboethics.

The Fall operating parameters

The dialogue in The Fall is well-written and fully voice-acted. There aren’t too many characters in the game but each is voiced perfectly, especially The administrator, and AI who alternates between robotic precision and human inflection. The sound is also well done, and adds to the general atmosphere.

The Fall is similar to The Swapper in a number of ways – it has a similar aesthetic and setting. Since The Swapper is a game I rated 10/10, this is not a bad thing. The story and gameplay are different enough that The Fall does not seem derivative.

It took me about 3 hours to finish the game, which is the first of three planned episodes. It’s available on PC and Wii U, and is well worth the $10 the price tag. I’m really looking forward to episode 2, which will hopefully be out later in 2015.

Verdict – Highly recommended. The Fall combines great dialogue, eerie atmosphere, and intelligent story-telling to create a unique and thought-provoking game experience. Though the controls are not the most intuitive, once you’ve gotten used to them the gameplay provides very satisfying puzzle solving and combat.

The Swapper: Review and Giveaway

Of all the games I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale the one I’ve enjoyed the most is The Swapper, an atmospheric puzzle platformer set in space. In it, you play an unidentified astronaut who must traverse a huge, mostly dark and empty space station. It makes for an unsettling mood and provides plenty of intrigue that makes you want to push on and discover more.

The Swapper

Gameplay revolves around the titular swapper device which allows you to create clones of yourself which will copy your actions exactly. The device also allows you to swap your consciousness (soul?) into the clones in order to move forward. In order to make your way through the space station you need to collect orbs which are inaccessible to you initially but reachable through clever use of your clones.

While the puzzles start off simple, they quickly become more challenging. Eventually it’s not just a matter of positioning, you also need to navigate around obstacles and make use of gravity, momentum, and timing. Don’t worry about needing twitchy, split-second reaction time though – as you hold down the mouse button to project a clone time slows way down, giving you plenty of time to think and act.

The story is not only about trying to escape the space station but also learning about an alien civilization and creators of the swapper technology, the Watchers. You learn about what happened through security console logs, interactions with the Watchers themselves, and from a mysterious woman who seems to be the only other human survivor on the station.

The Swapper

The narrative and gameplay are equally engaging, and really enhance each other. Things get rather philosophical as questions about the nature of life, identity, and the mind are raised. Are the hundreds of clones you create and discard throughout the game just empty vessels? When they fall to their deaths or get dematerialized once you no longer need them, does it mean nothing? Can a body be shared by multiple minds?

The Swapper clocks in at about 5 hours of gameplay, depending on how long it takes you to solve the puzzles. If you’re a fan of games that make you think and the sci-fi genre, I’m sure you’d like it. If you’re looking for something to compare the game to, I’d say it has aspects of Braid (though you’re manipulating copies of yourself instead of time) and a number of similar ideas to the movie Moon.

Rating: 10/10 – The game is short but kept me engaged and curious the whole way through. Gameplay is simple, smooth and requires more thinking than reacting. Also, it’s set in space. So automatic +1.

Since I enjoyed The Swapper so much, I’d like for other people to enjoy it too, so I’ve got 2 copies to give away on Steam. If you’d like a chance to win one, comment below and tell me your favourite game, book, movie, or show that is set in space. Be sure to use a real email when you comment so I can send you the game. I will randomly pick 2 winners in a week, on Sunday July 6th.

Edit (July 7): Thanks to everyone who entered! The winners were Lizzy and Gruffertus! Steam codes have been sent.