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Developer: Superbrothers/Capybara Games
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 1G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP has been long-hyped as a game, having been in development since December 2009 and hotly anticipated by the iOS gaming community ever since. Of course, a lot of this has been thanks to the impressive-looking pixel art by Superbrothers, along with a soundtrack by musician Jim Guthrie, all blended into a gaming experience, and the latter part of that phrase is the important part – this is an experience moreso than it is a game.

The story of Sword & Sworcery is that you are a Scythian warrior, who is out to acquire a book called the Megatome, and is set to use it to destroy an evil force known as the Gogolithic Mass. I won’t go into it much more than that, for fear of spoiling you, as discovering the strange, wondrous, and occasionally ludicrous elements of the game is part of the experience – and getting to see it all yourself for the first time as you play is what makes it shine the brightest. The game is largely a point-and-click adventure, where you explore the world to solve puzzles to help you advance in the story. You also will fight battles, where you will have to block and evade enemy attacks to attack your enemies with your sword when you get the chance.

The graphics are wonderful, largely composed of tremendously detailed and gorgeous pixel art. This game absolutely pops on the iPad screen, and allows you to get immersed into the experience – I fear that the iPhone/iPod touch version will suffer a bit from being on a smaller screen. The music from Jim Guthrie is absolutely astounding; every track just does a fantastic job at connecting you to the mood of the game, whether it be weird or haunting or just to pump you up for your upcoming battle. I don’t know if anyone’s going to come up with a better battle theme song than Sword & Sworcery’s theme any time soon. If you don’t wear good headphones while playing, you should be thrown in prison. I’m that serious. The dialogue is also of particular note, as the game isn’t afraid to be silly, but it doesn’t betray the emotional core of the game either.

Sword and Sworcery sometimes suffers as an actual game, though. The controls sometimes make movement tricky – the naviagation is generally pretty smart, but double I’ve often double tapped near an exit and wound up just in front of it, for example. The puzzles are largely solved through trial and error, although there is often a pattern to them – basically, if you get to a point where something should happen, enter Sworcery mode, and start tapping on objects until things happen. Patterns will eventually reveal themselves, and the logic of the puzzles becomes apparent only afterwards, sometimes. The combat setups can get repetitive due to the limited number of enemies in the game – the very first boss fight is probably the hardest as you don’t know what you’re doing. Also, I get what was intended with the rotating the iPad from landscape to portrait, which is used to pull out your sword, read the Megatome, and fight in battles. This feels like something that should have been left in the iPhone version, and the iPad version left in landscape the whole time.

But, despite the cons I mention with the actual gameplay, the experience is just so overwhelmingly great, that it is absolutely worth playing, worth seeing and experiencing for yourself. It being a game is often its great drawback, as when you get reminded that you’re playing a game is when the experience suffers the most. But when that all melts away and you can just let the art and music wash over you, you can truly experience something unlike anything else you’ve ever played.

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Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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