Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP might be a traditional point-and-click adventure, but its meticulously crafted world is a delight to the senses.
Social networks are one of the most ubiquitous aspects of our lives. Very few people escape the influence of those platforms that let you build social relations with people who have similar interests. Most of the times though, social networks are used to share content such as memes, top ten lists, parody videos or simply, pictures of cats. Numerous video games have tried to integrate social networks as part of the core experience, but the use of these platforms within video games has been poor to say the least. At first, Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP stands out for its novel use of Twitter, but soon enough, those who keep playing this unconventional graphic adventure will realize that the game is more than that. Its unique writing style, pixelated visuals and compelling puzzles make Superbrothers an entrancing graphic adventure that will keep engaged for hours.
In the game, you assume the role of an adventurer known as The Scythian who’s joined by his faithful canine companion Dogfella. Eventually, The Scythian will be introduced to the locals, including a dark-haired girl known as Girl, a woodcutter known as Longfella and the enigmatic Archetype, among other bizarre characters. The Scythian’s main objective is to explore a mountain pass and recover a magic book called the Megatome, but when the main protagonist finally nabs the book, he awakens an evil specter from its slumber.
So what do you do in Superbrothers? On the one hand, the game can be described as a traditional point-and-click adventure: you explore different environments, talk to some of the local people and from time to time, you solve light puzzles and engage in simplistic combat. But while this is an accurate description of the game, that’s where its traditional qualities end.
The first time you start the game, you can login to your Twitter account. This will allow you to tweet various quotations and unlike most modern titles, Superbrothers doesn’t automatically tweet every single line from the game to blatantly promote itself. You can select your favorite quote, tweet it and see people’s reactions. At the same time, you can play the game disregarding this functionality and technically, you wouldn’t be missing anything at all. Nevertheless, Twitter integration is arguably one of the most novel and creative aspects of the game.
Another non-traditional element is related to the controls, since the game has been developed with touch-based devices in mind. As a consequence, this hinders the experience if you’re playing on the PC. At their best, controls are fairly intuitive, but at their worst, they are cumbersome and inadequate. But while exploring the environments can be awkward due to the clumsy controls, combat is an enjoyable experience.
Whenever you encounter a foe, the game switches to combat mode. Combat is quite simple: first, you need to engage in a fight by clicking the right mouse button. Once you’re in the fight, you have two options: blocking with a shield or striking an enemy with your sword. Luckily, combat is more than clicking mindlessly on enemies. Since combat is time-based, you need to look at the enemy to see its reaction. The way in which enemies move usually indicates when (and how) they are going to attack and this gives you ample time to react accordingly.
Superbrothers is a sensory experience unlike any other. Despite using pixelated visuals, the world of Superbrothers brims with personality. The stylish visuals can be truly appreciated during some of the cutscenes and the camera has a cinematic flair to it. Apart from the unique art style, the game makes use of a memorable and evocative soundtrack that’s quite suitable for this unorthodox adventure. It’s also impressive that Superbrothers manages to tell such an engrossing tale without using a single spoken line of dialogue.
But where Superbrothers really shines is in its writing. After all, tweeting quotes wouldn’t be as compelling as it is if it wasn’t for the game’s peculiar narrative style. The game excels in its writing by mixing poetic language with some informal expressions, usually in the same sentence. Writing combines both complex and simplistic expressions in a really witty way. One of the first lines I remember from the game is: “Our research shows that prolonged exposure to the Mythopoetic Psychocosmology of S: S&S EP can have adverse side effects.” Still, the list of examples goes on and on.
Sadly, Superbrothers isn’t without some issues. Although most puzzles are well designed, I often found myself clicking mindlessly on the environments out of frustration. Since nothing prevents you from clicking pell-mell to find the solution, you’ll find yourself doing this in order to move on with the story. I also found some puzzles really frustrating and not because they were hard, but because they were poorly explained and I didn’t know what to do or where I was supposed to go next.
But despite its issues, Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP is a stylish point-and-click adventure that combines both traditional elements proper of the genre with some unconventional ones in an engrossing way. To a certain extent, Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP might be a traditional point-and-click adventure, but its meticulously crafted world is a delight to the senses.