Lunar phases and clunky controls let this adventure fall.
When Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP arrived on the iPad over a year ago, it delivered a stunning experience that still stands out today as a triumph for the device. News that this point-and-click adventure was coming to PC excited fans of the genre, and while it still delivers all the things we love, does it improve on what the iOS version started?
What Sword & Sworcery Got Right
Strange story that is compelling - Sword & Sworcery is weird. You take control of Scythian; an adventurer who is wandering a luscious forest realm. The story is drip fed to the player via some well written text boxes that appear through dialogue or examination of interesting elements. There is also a classy self-aware narrator who smokes a pipe and helps inch the story along, yet the game is never blatantly obvious and continues to play its cards close to it's chest.
Check out the official trailer!
Visual and audio delight - The graphical throwback to 8-bit visuals is nothing short but stunning. The developers have managed to throw in some absolutely jaw-dropping lighting effects and some seriously fluid animations to make Sword & Sworcery easily one of the best looking pixel games of late. The attention to detail really makes the art stand out, and the quest feel more alive.
When you add that to the amazing soundtrack you have a deadly combination on your hands. The soundtrack is full of chip tunes mixed with hints of strings and modern synths to add more substance and make the game feel epic. Each action brings with it a gorgeous sound, and before long you will be poking and prodding just to hear what sound is going to be played. This is definitely a title you need a good set of headphones for.
Unique lunar phase mechanic- Sword & Sworcery employs an utterly unique concept using the lunar phase to dictate gameplay. Without spoiling the quest for you, there are sections of the game that can only be played and completed during certain phases of the lunar cycle. It's strange, and we're not sure why it exists, but it helps the game stand out.
What Sword & Sworcery Got Wrong
Feels like a rushed port - There's nothing worse than getting a rushed PC port of a AAA title on release day, but it hurts even more when Sword & Sworcey feels like a rushed port almost a year after the first release on iOS. The tutorial messages of "tap and hold here" are easy enough to forgive, but the control scheme itself still feels very touch-based, yet this time with a mouse. It feels clunky and is a little frustrating at times, and it definitely hurts the experience. If you have an option to play Sword & Sworcery on an iPad, definitely go with that version just for controls alone.
Lunar mechanic breaks interest - The very mechanic that makes Sword & Sworcery so unique is ultimately its downfall. Relying on the the lunar phase to complete sections of the game is intriguing, but it completely destroys the flow of the adventure. Waiting 4 days to finish the next section of the game seemed to suit the iOS version, you often found yourself playing while you were out and about in short bursts. However when sitting down at a PC to enjoy the experience, it seems like an unnecessary chore. Of course you can always cheat and change the date on your computer, but even that is a minor inconvenience.
The Final Verdict
Gorgeous from start to finish, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a paragon title for what developers and powerful iOS devices are capable of. Unfortunately that prowess seems to be lost in translation in this sub-par PC port, that suffers from clunky controls and feels rather rushed. Very rarely do we see audio, visual and unique design fit together in a seemingly perfect experience, and we think everyone should experience what this unique adventure has to offer. Having said that, if you have an iPad, we'd suggest picking up that version.
By Stephen Heller - Bio