Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP: PC review


  • Format: PC (version tested), iPhone
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Capybara Games
  • Developer: Capybara Games, Superbrothers
  • Players: 1
  • Site:

The idea that smartphones can be a legitimate gaming platform has quickly become established in pretty much all spheres of the gaming industry. Ports of classic games have been coming thick and fast with everything from Marathon to Monkey Island being given a touchscreen make-over. Simultaneously the mobile platform has produced classics of its own which, likewise, have been taken up with relish by the PC market. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, the decidedly left-field release from Capybara Games and the eponymous Superbrothers, is one such game which has this month been given a new home on the PC. Yet, while the simple delights of flinging disgruntled birds across a screen easily translates to the keyboard and mouse interface of the PC, Swords & Sworcery’s task is a little more tricky.

The original iOS game experimented with the device’s touchscreen and gyroscopic capabilities bringing this interface right into the centre of its experience. So does this once uniquely tactile interactive experience endure without the physicality it championed on the iPhone? Well, yes it does. Kind of. First of all the game remains a beautiful audiovisual piece of work. The pixel graphics are stunningly detailed and the animation is fluid while both the soundtrack and audio design, written by Jim Guthrie, help to craft an equally distinctive and memorable counterpoint to these visual delights. The incredible audiovisual world created in Sword and Sworcery is the game’s strongest achievement and remains as distinctive as ever, helped by the increased resolution and sound provided by the home computer.

Waterfalls and naked boars

The game’s story, while it follows many of the tropes of the fantasy adventure genre, presents itself as purposely nonsensical and as a result isn’t particularly engaging on a narrative level. The script can be very fun however and even manages to develop a sense of mystery despite its insistence on obligatory, self-referential jibes. The game’s characters are also enjoyable to interact with thanks to the mechanic of the Megatome, a book which details the game characters’ thoughts in a slyly familiar fashion (okay, it’s like Twitter). Designed to reflect the iPhone’s primary purpose as a communication device, this works perfectly well on PC and still feels genuinely fresh and original a year on.

Unfortunately this feeling of originality doesn’t quite hold up in gameplay. As mentioned above the original iOS release played with the mobile device’s unique capabilities, and the move to the more familiar interface of the PC does feel like a step back. In traditional adventure game form the player uses the mouse to move their character about and interact with the world. This very familiar set up is then broken up by bouts of combat and puzzle solving – that is, Sword and S(w)orcery. Both these mechanics are functional but it’s hard not to feel the gaping lack of touch control. The puzzles were great fun when they required the player to explore the world with their fingers; but when reduced to clicking a cursor any sense of tangible exploration is lost. Unfortunately these puzzles (as is also the case with combat) are too simple to really carry themselves without the uniqueness of the iOS interface and as a result the overall gameplay can feel a little weak.

As a visual, auditory adventure Sword & Sworcery remains unique and at times breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately the gameplay isn’t quite as inspiring and does suffer from the change of interface. That said, the game is cheap and while it may be short it’s definitely something everyone should witness. If you don’t have an iPhone/Pad then this release essentially gives you the chance to see and hear this charming and imaginative game. 

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Written by Joe S

A student of all things you can sit down and look at. I live in the West of England (between the Severn and Bristol) where I spend my time watching short, confusing films about landscape and attempting to write on the subject of videogames.

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