Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is cool in every way. It has an awesome acronym — S:S&S EP. The soundtrack is killer. It has one of the most focused and ferocious storylines I’ve ever experienced. I can throw adjective after adjective out there and still won’t have enough to do this game justice, so I must settle for breaking it down technically.
The game played so well, I wrote a four piece feature on it back in May. Go ahead and read that if you want all the glorious minutia. Here’s the lite version of why it’s my game of the year.
“Wait,” you may be saying. “Your game of the year is for the iOS?” Yes; and to be honest, I’ve never seen a game push its platform as much as S:S&S EP. Nevermind it being on the iOS.
What impressed me the most was how well the touch and gyroscopic controls were built into the gameplay. Of course, it is standard in any game for the controls to make sense. Very rarely, however, does a game offer controls that are tightly weaved with the story and puzzles, and that bring the player deeper into the game’s world as a result.
S:S&S EP makes it extremely fun to explore the world not only by moving the avatar, but tapping on the screen to prod an innocent bystander or roil a seemingly quiet lake, discovering something new every time. You’re often treated with a keen/funny 2nd person observation, but sometimes you get a vital clue that helps to move the game forward. Then, you can strum waterfalls like harps in a particular music puzzle with a swipe, you can tear a tree apart like ripping cloth at its seam with two fingers. You can easily get a god-rush from this game and its very pleasing if I say so myself.
Then there’s the metafiction of S:S&S EP. In the most romantic sense, the game is trying to climb out of the screen and exist in the real world with the player. This can be seen not only in its social aspect (see Transcend Genre), but also in all the second person “we” statements and the game’s self-reflexive musings. The Archetype, a NPC guide of sorts, defines the game for you, “[t]he expanded consciousness, the untapped & limitless potential of the mind, is what we at Superbrothers refer to as ‘sworcery’” and addresses you along your progress, “[a]s you can see, The Megatome gathers & collects linguistic through transmissions. Scroll down to see what I was thinking before”. At times, one may get an eerie feeling that as you play, the game watches you, studies you, vying to become your best friend both while you’re playing and when you’re not.
Couple all this with a spot on story and I’m completely sold. Mind you, the story may sound cliché — a heroine who stops at nothing to save the world, even at the cost of her own life. It’s the journey that makes it unique. On top of an odd world, the metafiction and the tight, enveloping controls, the player really sees and feels her desire to complete her mission. After each boss battle, max health gets lower. Her fatigue progressively gets worse as she hunches over and breathes laboriously. Yet, she must go on. So does the player. And what an experience it is.