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iPad Review: Sword and Sworcery EP

Posted on 11th Apr 2011 at 10:50 by David Hing with 12 comments

David Hing
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP for the iPad is like nothing else you have ever played. Described as ‘a 21st century interpretation of the archetypical old school videogame adventure’ it uses beautifully crafted pixel-scapes to do for video gaming what the impressionist painters did for art.

A collaborative project from indie studio Capybara, rock musicians and art from the Superbrothers themselves, Sword and Sworcery EP is a essentially a point and click adventure game that sees you cast as a warrior out to destroy an ancient evil. To do that you’ll need to solve puzzles, fight bears and collect an artefact called the Megatome – so far, so adventure-game. What sets is apart from the likes of Kings Quest however are the lashings of surrealism, abstraction and poetry that somehow never slips into infuriating pretentiousness.

iPad Review: Sword and Sworcery EP iPhone Review: Sword and Sworcery EP
Click to enlarge

The real star isn’t the music or the mysticism, however, but the visual style. It’s absolutely perfect, causing us to frequently stop playing for a moment or two just to admire the scenery – no mean feat considering the outstanding visual quality of most modern games. The landscapes are rich and detailed and invoke a near painterly quality. There’s a rare sense of artistry to Sword and Sworcery that we’ve not seen in a long, long time.

Sword and Sworcery’s music is still exemplary, however. The sound design has been meticulously crafted, fitting perfectly with the gameplay and creating an absorbing atmosphere that genuinely hooks you in to the moment. The sounds and music towards the end of our first session built a huge amount of tension and it was only after the threat – which we won’t name to avoid spoiling it – passed that we realised that our eyes were stinging due to lack of blinking.

A major drawback of most iPad and iPhone games is that they fail to make the most of the touchscreen interface or try to shoe horn in an ineffective d-pad. Point and click games seem like an assured win for touch-screens however, so Sword and Sworcery is a natural fit. It doesn’t limit itself to the conventions of the genre though, using screen-tilting mechanics regular switches from landscape to portrait to keep things interesting. In landscape mode you’re able to move around with your sword and shield equipped, while turning to portrait position opens your Megatome – a combination spell book and help guide.

iPad Review: Sword and Sworcery EP iPhone Review: Sword and Sworcery EP
Click to enlarge

Sword and Sworcery isn’t all hard-core art-game, however – there are points of genuine humour and awesome subtlety. At one point, for example, you have to travel into your dreams to find a lost key, which involves following a bear which dances like Ricky Gervais in the Office. It’s a moment which, like the game as a whole, feels beautifully surreal and yet oddly poignant.

Verdict: Sword and Sworcery could be a landmark in history of mobile gaming, proving to be the first title we’ve seen on the iPad platform which so wonderfully blurs the line between gaming and ambient art. Pensive, intelligent and wonderfully rich, you can feel the deep love and adoration for gaming that has gone into this project and it shines from its every pixel.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP is developed by a whole host of talented artist and is available for the iPad via the AppStore.

12 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Kiytan 11th April 2011, 11:03 Quote
That does look interesting, the screenshots remind me a little of Another world/flashback on the amiga.
Nexxo 11th April 2011, 11:53 Quote
Yes it does, doesn't it? Ah, good times... good times...
Xir 11th April 2011, 12:01 Quote
Quote:
The landscapes are rich and detailed and invoke a near painterly quality.
...in an old-school VGA way.

Let me finish that for you :D
[PUNK] crompers 11th April 2011, 13:13 Quote
i hope this comes to pc, i'd love to play another "proper" point and click
popcornuk1983 11th April 2011, 14:00 Quote
I got my hopes up there. It has iPhone review on the title. But this is an iPad only app :(
FaIIen 11th April 2011, 14:00 Quote
can we get an iphone release date ? -.-
Fizzban 11th April 2011, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiytan
That does look interesting, the screenshots remind me a little of Another world/flashback on the amiga.

;)
Ding 11th April 2011, 14:47 Quote
I was convinced it was already out but iPhone and iPod touch version should be out this month!
Xir 11th April 2011, 14:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [PUNK] crompers
i hope this comes to pc, i'd love to play another "proper" point and click
Yes!
Hmmm, why don't adventures get reviewed at Bit-Tech :?
(unless they're Monkey-Island or on the Ixxx-line?)
CardJoe 11th April 2011, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Quote:
Originally Posted by [PUNK] crompers
i hope this comes to pc, i'd love to play another "proper" point and click
Yes!
Hmmm, why don't adventures get reviewed at Bit-Tech :?
(unless they're Monkey-Island or on the Ixxx-line?)

They do when good ones come in. Sadly, there just aren't enough good ones.
Helenius 11th April 2011, 16:01 Quote
Headline says: iPhone Review


Not really... is it?
Xir 12th April 2011, 09:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
They do when good ones come in. Sadly, there just aren't enough good ones.

2010:
Heavy Rain (well you've covered that)
Monkey Island - 2 (mmmkay) :D
Lost Horizon
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Edit: oh, must've missed that review, sorry Joe)

2011:
Black Mirror III
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