Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

released on Mar 24, 2011

Traverse a mythic little realm, use a sword to do battle & evoke sworcery to solve mystical musical mysteries.

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Pretty neat overall. It's been looming over me for years as part of a bundle I got at some point, and seeing things involving jim guthrie here and there made me think this was like a Big Deal, like he's a big deal, and the stuff that happens in this game is a big deal. And it's not really, but it's nice, and does some interesting stuff.
Like twitter integration and trying to do a sort of asynchronous strand type souls thing but with actual social media. It'd be cool if some tweets or something showed up to reflect that. Other than that, it's a pretty nicely constructed atmospheric point and click without too obtuse of puzzles, an interesting time mechanic(that largely if you don't use the in-game item to work around it, it likely would have been a bit annoying), and some fun little rhythm combat sequences. Doesn't have much to say, but it says what it does want to convey pretty well.
I like its style, even tho this style of pixel art feels lazy and uninspired, some of the other details make up for it somewhat.

The game is pretty. But whatever charm it may have is buried underneath shit gameplay, and a pretentious story with nothing to say. The only positive thing that comes to mind is that it mentioned Al Jaffe once for the fold-in powers, and even then my only response was 'huh, yeah, I know that guy.'
Also the game exits you out to the menu after each chapter - as if it's an intermission - but there is literally zero draw to actually pick up the game again to continue playing it.
The twitter integration is cringe as hell, too. 100% a game designed for some hipster in a gentrified city to play on the bus.

there is a lot about this game that i think is cool as hell-- the ancient caucusus setting, the beautiful backgrounds and color palettes, and the transportational music. however the meat of this game is baffling to me... how is any of it intended to be fun or feel like an adventure? why does even the walkthrough i looked up not understand the reasoning behind the first real puzzle i encountered? why did the writers choose this strange mullet (Fantasy Novel in the Front, Twitter Draft in the Back) of a writing style for every line? the character sprites are ugly and unexpressive, too. i don't know... in the second episode i decided i was bored so i put it down.

Fumar um e jogar isso é quase a mesma coisa

Vague and cryptic stories are often seen as an easy way out when creating a game. It's a point of view I don't like to echo as there are many amazing games that tell their stories in obscure or hazy ways, and yet manage to have defined themes and threads even if not all the details are there. There's a blurred line between giving the player something and letting them go on it, and giving them next to nothing and expecting them to ad-lib a narrative in their head.
In the latter case, you get something like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, a point-'n-click adventure where you're a warrior of sorts trying to assemble a triforce of sorts because it's kind of your fate or something. It's a barebones structure lifted from games like The Legend of Zelda series, but lacks both the originality to call itself its own thing and the punch to be considered parody. In fact, what little writing there is in the game is rather poor.
The vague approach seen in the storytelling extends to the rest of the game, which doesn't bother to explain its combat, overworld mechanics, scenery, or even controls, that last point being especially aggravating since the PC version of the game replicates touch screen controls with a mouse. I'll give the game the benefit of the doubt and assume the iPad controls are intuitive, but on a mouse, it's not at all logical to click, double click, long click and drag everything to see if there is an effect, especially since the game picks from those interaction methods somewhat randomly, without any logic to what does what.
The result was having to check guides to understand basic actions the character can perform, then making frequent returns to said guides because most of the objectives in the game boil down to interacting in random ways with random things in the scenery you might not even know you can affect. Even the so-called puzzles mostly lack any real logic and fall back to clicking every pixel on the screen until something happens. Not for one single moment while playing was I ever able to immerse myself into the experience.
Now, I’m no stranger to games that require a guide due to the sheer depth of their mechanics, but the problem is that not only is such depth missing here, but immersion is something the game is banking on, as the stars of the show are supposed to be the soundtrack and sound design. They are indeed stellar, so much so that it seems clear that the game was designed around them instead of the opposite. Just barely designed, to a degree that was far from enough. It's impossible to feel immersed into the sounds when the rest of the work is so broken, it pulls you straight into the opposite direction.
And that's sad, because the game has a handful of elements I do like. The game's exploration of the surreal, with a dream realm that's able to affect the real world, is pretty enticing, if poorly used, and combat is by far the most functional system in the game, allowing you to guard, attack and evade with simple inputs. Of course, you're fighting enemies so abstract that a fair amount of guesswork still applies, but hey. Credit where credit is due.
In the end, S&S is a game I had to drag myself into finishing. If it resonates with you, then more power to you -- to me, it's a forgettable, bare-bones experience that I was better off ignoring.