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This is part two of a four part, in-depth study of what makes a great game. Reader be forewarned, there be spoilers afoot.

If you’ve read the reviews for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, you already have a sense for how fantastic the game is. Boot up the app on your iPhone or iPad (the iPad version is definitely recommended), and you arguably get one of the best games to have come out of this generation. I say this regardless of the platform.

However, few know how complete and transcendental the gaming experience S:S&S EP delivers. We aim to lay it all out. For those of you who have never heard of this game, and those of you who don’t own an iOS device, we also aim to let you know why you should still take note.

Transcend The Audio

My day job takes place in a quiet office on the 14th floor of an anonymous building in the financial district. The only sounds you hear are furious typing and occasional telephone banter. To stay sane, I’m constantly plugged into audio services. This is where I first experienced S: S&S EP, coincidentally.

Singer songwriter Jim Guthrie, the man who scored the game, had actually created an album, S: S&S LP, around it. This album had hit #1 on Bandcamp. I randomly clicked on it and started listening. Adventurous melody and modern, yet traditional themes instantly sucked me in. I listened all the way through 20 + full length tracks and started back at the beginning. I must have done so three or four times that first sitting.

It wasn’t until after a few days of listening to the album when I actually read the description and found out this was a soundtrack to an iOS game. I tell you, the album stands on its own as something great, spurring the listener to visit dark forests, even darker caves and fabled mountain tops. To be fused with a game that offers selfsame imagery and adventure on the same scale is something special.

Music goes further by taking a prominent place within the game. In another sprite releasing puzzle, you must strum falling water like a harp. It is only natural when you do so the water sounds off like a harp. Soon, the player realizes that all puzzles maintain some element of musicality; and when you push the sprite to fly into the heavens, it sings out an angelic tune. In S: S&S EP, the act of releasing these sprites is called a “song”.

Visually, music manifests in the form of a record. That record greets the player once the app boots up. You can play with it, dragging the record to slow the introductory track, swiftly swiping to make it play again. The game revisits that record when the player must cross over into the dream world – as soon as the player does so, there is a small cut scene where the camera pans up into the stars, the record appears and turns over and a text call out indicates that the game has flipped over to side B.

The theme of music is so completely embedded into this game it makes one wonder if the intention was to turn the album into an interactive, gaming experience and not the inverse.

Next: Transcend The Story

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