Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP thoughts

A pretty, enchanting little game in a pixel art style. A great soundtrack and a nice relaxing, often humorous way to pass a few hours.

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Story
With it only being a 4 hour game, there isn’t that much to say. The story is delivered in four ‘sessions’, as a sort of therapy from a character called The Archetype, the tutorial companion/therapist/narrator. (He’s not the only one to break the fourth wall, either.) From there you play as the Scythian on a mission to complete a ‘woeful errand’ and it continues as a very typical adventure. Collect three parts of the Trigon Trifecta, and defeat the Gogolithic Mass. The characters are very amusing, Logfella and Dogfella being my favourites (yes, their real names), and aside from the short conversations you will have with them there is also a way to view their thoughts (yes, you read that right) sometimes via the Megatome. It fills its little adventure shoes very nicely.

Gameplay
The gameplay is pretty simple, essentially a point and click. Not the most intuitive point and click either – it’s a double click to set a point to move to and a point-and-hold to set a pseudo-point that essentially ‘drags’ your character – the Scythian – after it, and it takes a little longer to hold than seems intuitive. But once you get the hang of it, it’s simple enough.

Fighting is another simplified matter. It boils down to either clicking the sword or the shield symbol with the right timing, the epitome of this being the three boss fights against Trigons – each a part of the Trigon Trifecta. These are – as I like to call them – the three most egotistical Dorito chips of all time, and the tangy cheese, cool original, and chilli heatwave flavours (the colours match, I didn’t even have to try) each have their own particular sequence of slash/defend in order to defeat them and claim their triangular glory.

My favourite part of the gameplay involved the awakening of sylvan sprites. These involved singing a song of sworcery (click and hold on the Scythian) and then performing different actions depending on the sprite, such as bringing objects together, clicking objects in a certain order, or in one case spot-the-difference.

I find the three core mechanics mentioned reasonably satisfying and very simple, suitable enough to carry the 4 hours it ended up taking me to play it and still provide a challenge at times. If there was a particular aspect of frustration, I would have to give that award to the slow speed of the Scythian – even in her ‘faster’ mode of walking I found that in the later game it annoyed me when I had to retread old ground. I might have forgiven it had the game always moved into new areas, or given me a shortcut or two to key places. The other mechanic I might have objected to is the need to ‘wait’ for certain moon phases – but there is a simple in-game answer to that impatience which I stumbled across coincidentally (as well as the cheat way). However, I can see that annoying some people, no matter how easy it is to change one’s computer settings. It’s a mechanic I have very mixed feelings about. (It’s also used in Hate Plus.)

Art style
Pixel art, very beautifully done. Environments also change with the ‘moods of the moon’ and if you eat a mushroom (health boost) you get some happy blurred pink dots floating around your screen for a while. Facially, it loses out on expressions, lacking details in that area just a little bit in comparison to say, To The Moon style, though it carries itself well with bodily expression.

Music (Disclaimer)
The music adds to the whole relaxation of the experience – or rather, is what provides it. It changes with different areas and situations, but I didn’t find a single track among them that I couldn’t enjoy outside of the game. ‘EP’ is an appropriate addition to the title. It’s not just the background music which I like (which also changes when you have mushrooms), but also the audio effects associated with awakening the sprites – each click on a relevant object has an associated tone and ascending the sprite releases a series of rising tones that add to the pleasant unearthliness of it.

Plus, the bass drop in the music after claiming a trigon I found especially satisfying.

Final thoughts
I really enjoyed playing this game, and it is definitely my cup of tea. However, I feel the gameplay is not as satisfying or full as it could be, even given its small scope, and the replay value is very limited if that is something you look for – there would be very little to nothing extra to explore on a second play through, so any replay would just be to enjoy the same experience again.

Would I recommend it? Yes, as surely as I would recommend a bag of Doritos.

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