The Swapper

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PSN title card.

The Swapper is a science fiction platformer puzzle video game developed and published by Facepalm Games for Windows on 2013-05-13, and later ported to several other platforms. In the game's story, the scientists of a research space ship have all been killed, and you arrive to find out what happened. The game uses a mechanic similar to the one popularized in Binary Land back in 1983 where the player controls multiple characters that all move in harmony with each other, however, the game really expands on the mechanic.

Personal

I bought this game in a Humble Indie Bundle. I don't remember where I learned about the game, but it stuck in my head for some reason, and I decided to play it. After a few minutes in, I was really enjoying the game, so I kept playing it. It took me a few days, but I eventually beat it on 2020-05-06.

Status

I own this game on Steam and beat the main game without any hints.

Review

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5 5 5 5 4

Best Version: Windows

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • There are a lot of clever puzzles throughout the game. Some real head-scratchers.
  • The story is pretty intriguing.
  • The background art style and ambience is quite nice.
  • The soft ambient music is unobtrusive, which is perfect for a game that requires a lot of focus.
  • I liked the references to Daniel Dennett, David Chalmers, and the Ship of Theseus.
  • The ending choice, whether to swap with the rescuer, is kind of neat.

Bad

  • When a puzzle game has a story, I prefer when you don't have to beat all of the puzzles to see the story to completion. This allows less skilled players to see the ending even if they get stuck on a particularly difficult puzzle. You can still reward expert players with an achievement or special cut-scene. Unfortunately, The Swapper requires you to finish every last puzzle to see the ending.
  • The character animation is pretty choppy.
  • Invoking dualism and various other magical descriptions of consciousness moves the game more toward fantasy than sci-fi.
  • Rewarding extra "orbs" for solving the later puzzles is pointless since all of the puzzles need to be solved to finish the game. It just lets you get closer to the end earlier. I also found most of the 9-orb puzzles to be easier than several of the 3-orb puzzles.
  • Some of the puzzles were a bit too hard for my tastes. I did eventually solve them all, but a few required over an hour of fiddling before I finally stumbled on a solution.
  • The hidden areas, which must be found to get the achievements, are so ridiculously hidden most players won't find them. It would have been nice if there were at least some indication that they exist.

Ugly

  • Requiring the player to re-play the entire game just to see the alternate ending is annoying.

Media

Box Art

Videos

Longplay.
Alternate endings.
Hidden messages.

Links

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