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Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro Review

By , on April 28, 2011


Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro
Download on the AppStore
5 out of 5

PROS

  • Rich presentation; beautiful pixel-art world and absorbing musical themes.
  • Detailed sound design; critical for puzzle solving.
  • Easy to learn controls; touch and double-tap to move - turn and tap to fight.
  • Poetic storyline; nothing surprising, but elegantly told.
  • Universal version available.

CONS

  • Hard to invest in the characters; only given brief glimpses in to their thoughts 'Twitter'-style.
  • Odd sound bug; cuts off audio requiring a full App restart.

VERDICT

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro provides iDevice users with a chance to interact with a world that seeks to be more than just another casual distraction; whether you end up talking about it later with friends or simply allow it to sink in, finishing this game is worth the time if you're after something more than another skill based challenge.


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Video games (and especially those on the App Store) often boil down to fun interactive distractions that serve up entertainment in a novel fashion. Some are far better at creating an absorbing experience; some focus on technical skills and teamwork; others seek to bend the interactive medium in to something far more touching. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro is the collaborative work of Superbrothers, Capybara Games and songwriter Jim Guthrie and the end result is a relaxing and touching experience not always seen in the video game realm.

If you thrive on action or skill based gameplay, the world of Sword & Sworcery might be a harder one to engage with as you're presented with a fairly classic adventure game setup that focuses on elegant and purposefully considered actions. You act as a god of sorts, controlling the actions of a warrior monk by tapping or dragging the screen in order to move around or interact with it directly. These actions are initially limited, though as the story unfolds you'll gain the ability to read the thoughts (in a Twitter-like system) of others within the world and when things get rough you can engage in direct combat. Switching from a horizontal to a vertical orientation in order to participate in combat can feel odd, but the upshot is a zoomed in perspective that provides a far more intimate view on the combat, making its Punch Out-like system of blocking and attacking easier to follow.

It's hard to discuss many of the finer points of Sword & Sworcery without giving too much away as the story is closely intertwined with these interactive moments. Minor puzzles provide some time-sinks, though other more cumbersome mechanics such as needing to wait for phases of the moon can be frustrating without the patience to explore and find alternatives (one can also cheat the system, though this is far less rewarding). The story is mostly sombre, though despite the surface level of characterization you get for the warrior it's hard not to feel a bit touched at moments throughout this short story.

What really makes this title shine is the effort that has gone in to its presentation - from the detailed and highly interactive pixel-art world to the musical cues and sound effects that add as much to the story as any line of dialogue. Musical themes dominate the gameplay elements, with rhythm and a good ear for sounds being key requirements for success, though it is possible to solve some of the 'puzzles' with brute force.

What makes Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro hard to approach is that you only get back what you put in to the game. Investing yourself within the world and letting yourself go can be rewarding, however the gameplay itself can be repetitive and dull if you simply focus on objectives. If you have the time to sit down somewhere quiet for a while and you're after something thematically deeper than the usual time-waster, grab this game.

Screenshots

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Comments

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gamer386 3 years, 5 months ago

interesting art style...

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talugo 3 years, 5 months ago

It reminds me of "Today I Die Again" (not just because of the art style). In both, it seems like the purpose of the game is more than just brief stimulation and rapid screen taps. Unfortunately, "Today I Die Again" was an interesting, but very brief puzzler. I can't wait to play this.

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rekz 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for this review!  I have not played this game, but it looks amazing.  This seems like one of those games that should have a catagory far beyond the "quick 30 second play around" game like so many iPhone games I've seen.  Some games have deep gameplay, and some gamers relish in deep gameplay (like me).
While I'm not sure I'm going to buy this game right now, it's def been added to my "want to dload & try" list, b/c the game looks incredible.  The review didn't mention this game has been described as "a work of art" and similar props on the art work.
Funny that Pixel Art can look so amazing as we move beyond the visible pixel limitations on these newer screens...

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andrew 3 years, 5 months ago

I try to steer away from the 'games as art' debate, hence not making that sort of statement. It's not that I don't think games can be art, I just think games should (first and foremost) be games - art and games are slowly meeting in the middle and some games have been better than others at finding that happy medium.
 
Simply put, the game is quite gorgeous to look at; to listen to; and to think about. The gameplay elements can be a bit lacking and those used to deeper mechanics or a real challenge will be a bit disappointed, but I still think it's worth playing if only to say you have and to join in with the discussion :)