Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a surprisingly calming game. It’s also quite strange and unexpected. It’s not what I expected at all, in a tremendously positive way. Even though the game has been around for seven years, originally seeing a release on the iPad, it has slowly made its way over to other mobile devices and home computers. The Nintendo Switch version has the same unique visuals and a serene quality to it that comes through in the presentation and the gameplay. So find a warm blanket, curl up on the couch, and chill out with this entertaining adventure game.
The story focuses on a character called The Scythian, on a journey through an ancient land. There’s an underlying artistic theme here in both the music and visual style that is unlike a typical adventure game. The game is beautiful in a nostalgic sort of way. The graphics resemble an older DOS title and would be right at home in a classic 486 computer. Specifically, the highly stylized pixel graphics invoked memories of an early ‘90s shareware title from Epic Megagames called Jill of the Jungle that I enjoyed as a kid. Other players may experience a similar feeling upon seeing the graphics for the first time (though the game it reminds you of may vary). Either way, the graphics maintain a blocky aesthetic for the characters while rendering a beautiful environment in which to adventure. It’s a rather neat juxtaposition of graphic styles that makes the player long to explore more of the game.
The straightforward gameplay is nice and relaxing with nothing to complex to worry yourself over. There are a few types of gameplay—exploration, battle, movement. All of these are controlled by moving a cursor around the screen, pointing and clicking to search, move, etc. Battles are more interactive with the player actually controlling a sword and shield with the A and B buttons. The controls can be set from the main menu, too, so if the default scheme doesn’t work for you, you can make your own.
The game’s music—composed and curated by the amazing Jim Guthrie—is fantastic. It’s calming, peaceful, tranquil, and at times energizing. The “walking” music is especially good, almost moving along and syncing to the player’s movements. The sound effects are also well done and never out of place. Guthrie’s music feels like listening to your favorite records in a dark room, with your eyes closed. You hear the music, but also see the story of the music itself unfold in your mind’s eye. It’s the single best thing about the game, and if you’re a music fan, you’ll simply love it.
Ultimately, playing this game is more an exercise in meditation, patience and listening than it is in accomplishing a goal. Its story is quite engaging and worth playing through. I won’t spoil it here because it should be experienced without prior knowledge of the game for the full effect. However, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is worth much more than the price of admission and may be a game you’ll return to for a long time to come. Even if you already own it elsewhere, the Switch version might be the one to spring for thanks to the hybrid nature of the system.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7.5/107.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is not only a joy to experience, but has a rich history worth exploring in further detail. Those who grew up playing games on the PC in the early ‘90s will especially get a kick out of this one.