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Review

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Review

  • Game release: March 24, 2011
  • Reviewed: April 23, 2012
  • PC

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a beautiful and enthralling adventure that feels both archetypal and unique.

by

Something in our minds and hearts has always yearned for heroes. From King Arthur to Luke Skywalker, humanity has created and celebrated characters who fulfill great destinies, albeit ones tinged with sorrow. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a game that simultaneously recalls the tradition of epic heroes that stretches back through time, and creates a new kind of heroic quest that could only exist in the modern era. It's a magical adventure with a cohesive sense of style that uses its visuals, music, and dialogue to create a wondrous experience that's unlike any game you've played before.

It involves you personally in a way that few games do. Sword & Sworcery doesn't so much break the fourth wall as never build it in the first place. Your guide is the archetype, a dapper fellow with a cigar and a cane and one hell of a chair. He addresses you, the player, directly. His welcoming words set an intriguingly offbeat tone for the adventure to come, as he thanks you for choosing "to participate in this experimental treatment for acute soul-sickness." Before long, you're thrust headlong into your quest.

You play as the Scythian, a warrior monk far from her homeland on a woeful errand whose details aren't immediately made clear. The game's early moments allow you to come to terms with its intuitive point-and-click controls, and to interact with the world. This pixelated land quickly reveals a liveliness that makes it beautiful. The green dots that make up bushes shift colors ever so slightly, suggesting the gentle rustling of the wind. Your reflection in a pristine lake catches your eye, and tapping the water causes splashes to occur. Rabbits and other woodland creatures scamper into the brush as you draw near. All these details and many more pull you into this world and make it feel alive.

Though your errand is woeful, your quest is filled with humor, which results from the consistently delightful fusion of typically lofty fantasy language with contemporary casual lingo. You quickly meet three residents of this realm; a girl known as Girl, a woodcutter known as Logfella, and their dog, known as Dogfella. Clicking on Logfella early in your adventure reveals, "Logfella knew all about our woeful errand & he agreed to lead us up the old road. Still we definitely got the feeling that he wasn't super jazzed about this."

The Scythian's use of a first-person plural suggests she is speaking not only for herself, but perhaps for both you and her, and along with the archetype's periodic interludes, this helps make the whole experience feel more personal, like a journey of discovery not just for the Scythian, but for you as well. The statements of other characters aren't always humorous; they can also be ominous or observational or melancholy. Their quotable nature makes them apt for sharing, and S&S facilitates this by making it easy for you to quickly tweet any line without leaving the game.

The archetype's interludes make you feel personally involved in the adventure.

Sword & Sworcery's gameplay is straightforward. Your errand involves acquiring the triangular triumvirate of magical objects known as trigons, a clear nod to the most iconic magical object in game history. To do so, you explore the world, looking for the telltale signs of the presence of slumbering sylvan sprites who must be awakened and sent skyward. The puzzles you must solve to awaken these sprites encourage careful observation of your surroundings, as you must usually tap objects that stand out for whatever reason. You might notice that a bush that appears to be reflected in a lake doesn't exist on the shore, or that a mother duck seems worried about her distant ducklings.

These puzzles are generally quite easy, and in most cases, if you choose, you can solve them just by clicking all over the place until you hit upon the environmental objects that respond. But the puzzles aren't designed to be brainteasers, so much as they're yet another way the game draws you into its captivating world. It's a world of wonder and miracles, and your actions when solving puzzles sometimes end up changing the landscape in dramatic and surprising ways. At times, real-world moon phases have an impact on the Scythian's quest, further cementing a feeling of connection between you and the hero.

Your adventure is punctuated by occasional battles. In combat, you can click a sword icon to swing and a shield icon to block. Despite their simplicity, these fights are involving and satisfying, thanks to their rhythmic quality and a sense, generated by the music and sounds, that these are epic battles of great heroism and importance.

In fact, the music is an essential component of the entire Sword & Sworcery experience. Musician Jim Guthrie's varied tunes perfectly support the sense of magic and wonder that the game's story and writing create. Awaken a sylvan sprite, and the ethereal tones it emits as you send it skyward may send shivers down your spine. Find yourself facing a monster in combat, and the primal beats that sound as it bashes its shield with its club will get your pulse racing.

Jim Guthrie's music has such a tremendous impact on the experience, it's only fitting that he appears in the game.

Some of the game's most memorable moments occur as you take time to just exist in the world without advancing the story forward. You might savor the sights and sounds of standing under a pristine night sky, for instance, or you might meet Jim Guthrie himself in a grove and share a dreamy jam session as you make the trees resonate while Jim lays down a beat. It's a magical moment in a game full of a kind of rare beauty that you seldom encounter in games, or anywhere, for that matter. You get Guthrie's score for the game free with your purchase, which is a fantastic bonus.

Sword & Sworcery is only a few hours long, though if you play it the way the game encourages you to play it, those few hours may be spread over a number of weeks. But despite its brevity, the game doesn't feel too short. It's a satisfying experience that leaves you feeling like you've seen an important and heroic task through to completion, and gives you memories to keep. Sword & Sworcery casts such a captivating spell, you may recall your time in this wondrous and mythical realm each time you see the moon shining in the night sky.

The Good
Creates a lively and captivating world
Beautiful, offbeat, frequently funny writing
Fantastic soundtrack
Your quest feels personal and moving
The Bad
Easy to stumble on the solutions to puzzles
9
Superb
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12 comments
mosqueira
mosqueira

The game is so beautiful and unique. Graphics based on pixel art doesn't mean it's outdated or poorly made. The artist/designer of this game did a great job. It's sad that people can't appreciate it.

bruno_fmenedes
bruno_fmenedes

Good review Carolyn!

The point-and-click gameplay is well made and full of little details, although it feels a bit dated from my point of view. The story while captivating is not as interesting or meaningful as it thinks it is. The art style is good but not great in my book.

But the ocasional combat gameplay is exciting and the overall sound design is really really awesome! The sound effects are extremely effective and Jim Guthrie's music is incredible and unique, creating an vivid world and an immensely absorbing atmosphere, enhancing what you feel about what's happening and giving some weight to the dangers you face, particularly during battles.

MY SCORE: 8.0/10

Unbeginning
Unbeginning

You can't possibly expect an average user to believe this game compensates for it's lack of graphics all the way to the score of 9.0.

 

This will cause people to try the game out of curiosity, some money that could go to a hard working group of experts for an all-rounder great game will go to one person/small_group_of_people.

 

Sorry, but playing a retro game isn't going to make any of us any younger.

daremo101
daremo101

Its great that some of you like to play games that visually look like they are from the 80's.  Its awesome you get enjoyment out of them but i didn't just build a bada$$ pc so i could play half a game. I would have loved this game back in the day but that was because it was the best graphics could do at the time. Today, uptodate graphics is part of my gaming exp. and there is plenty of games where you don't have to sacrifice one for the other.  Great you all liked it but not for me. Stay Gaming!

WithoutGraceXII
WithoutGraceXII

Just finished this, and while it is a beautiful and unique experience, it runs out of beautiful unique ideas before the end imo. A little too much repetition in the puzzle department. Still it's worth playing, even if you don't like point and click games. It's fun trying to figure out exactly what's going on, because everything is pretty obscure.

brande77
brande77

The scoring says more about the reviewer than it does the game itself.

pfunkmort
pfunkmort

I find it weird that you give a game like Diablo 3 an 8.5, and this, with its suite of flaws, short length, and simple design gets a 9.0. 

 

Not to sound offensive, but looking down the list of recent PC reviews (I'm looking for a new PC game to play), I feel like the reviews you guys pour out have more to do with what types of game you like than the quality of the game from a sterile, objective critical perspective (no, I'm not just angry about Diablo).

Chirisa
Chirisa

Needed to write it out of my system.

honestly ... ppl who dont like point and click adventure games, fair enough, but try at least to sound like you know what you talk about, when you chose to comment. It might be a simple form of gameplay but that is not to say it is necessarily a kids game. these kinds of games usually rely on logic or the likes, for solving puzzles, instead of your reflexes, trigger finger or loot skills. To ad to that a point and click game just as any other genre needs to have a good story, sensible puzzles, good voicework and soundtrack to be rated high and for the love of god they are not being compared to shooters or action rpg's. It is a genre by itself, treat it as such and if it's not your thing ...  don't play them. simple as that.

calvinsora
calvinsora

 @Unbeginning You make the fundamental mistake of assuming because the game has "retro" graphics means it's bad. I happen to like these types of visuals, and I was born when games had already ventured into 3D so I have no nostalgia attached to it.

WTA2k5
WTA2k5

 @pfunkmort  A game's complexity has nothing to do with how good it is. Many gamers would still argue that the NES-era Mario Bros. games are some of the best ever even though they lack the intricate game design seen in modern titles.

 

Secondly, why in the world would you want a review to be objective? If you want to find out what a game is like in terms of concrete facts about its content, go read a product description. The entire point of a review is to give a subjective opinion.

ryan0991
ryan0991

 @pfunkmort

 

Why would the score of Diablo III be taken into consideration when reviewing this game? That makes no sense.

 

There isn't some overall model of consistency that the scores must stick to.

 

AAA titles are held to a higher standard than indie games.

shadow-crow
shadow-crow

 @pfunkmort Welcome to biasland, I come for those factual the good the bad bits, look at screen shots watch gameplay maybe, leave.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP More Info

First Release on Mar 24, 2011
  • iPhone/iPod
  • PC
  • + 2 more
  • Macintosh
  • Unix/Linux
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is an exploratory action adventure with an emphasis on audiovisual style.
6.6
Average User RatingOut of 399 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Capybara Games
Published by:
Superbrothers
Genres:
Adventure