The forest is dense. I've travelled days and nights. I've seen the moon grow large and fade away. I've seen worlds born and destroyed, but now I'm finally here. I've long forgotten why I'm here, but it matters little. The leaves here are special. They whisper. They say that a thousand secrets lay buried here. And I want to find them all.
Game development can start in various ways. Usually there is an idea for a mechanic that the developers want at the core of the game. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP doesn't appear to have been developed this way. If I didn't know better I would have guessed it descended from the stars. How else could the idea to combine old point-and-click mechanics with motion controls, social network functionality, music and a "neo-retro" presentation and an adventure that changes according to the phase the moon is in.
The developers Capybara Games seem to have had a lot of ideas, and they chose to put them all into one single game. It makes for a complex game full of new gaming mechanics and feature that according to all logics should have amounted to a pretentious mess.
But that's not true for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. This is a game that defies logic. It's one of the most polished experiences I've had the pleasure of experiencing for this price.
The story is simple at the start. You are tasked with collecting an old artefact. There is something strange with the forest where the artefact resides. There is an eerie feeling of being in a dream. Everything seems normal, but its not. You already know at the start that nothing will be as it as once you've completed your adventure.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP gives the term meta a new meaning. It's a game with a narrative that can only exist in this medium. You read the thoughts of the population of the forest as twitter feeds, you call on space babies through your ear for music, and you transcend planes of reality by turning over your iPad. It's a very self conscious game that doesn't shy away from greater concepts such as life and gaming in general. It plays with our expectations and pulls the rug away from under our feet. The developers Capybara Games believed in their idea and dared take risks, and we should keep in mind that the game is available for just a few pounds on iPad.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is one of the best arguments for tablets as gaming devices. The potential isn't limited to high quality casual experiences. This game opens up and explores all the functionality of the platform, and then turns them into features and game mechanics.
The lovely presentation is just icing on the cake. Superbrothers paints a beautiful pixelated wonderland where every new scene is beautiful enough to make me think of nailing my iPad to the wall instead of playing it. Capybara Games also avoids falling in the trap of 8-bit graphics and explores pixels with more modern technology. They add lighting, depth and little camera movements. This powerful minimalism takes my breath away at times.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP also makes it a point of taking the shape of a music album. The "EP" gives it away, and Jim Guthrie is the name of the Canadian singer/songwriter who has composed the soundtrack and a brilliant soundtrack it is. Perhaps due to the close co-operation where the game sometimes feels as though developed for the music rather than the other way around. Ambient sound curtains are layered on top of the game and gives you the creepy sense of being somewhere in between worlds. It's hard to compare it to something else, but think of the first time you turned on Braid. That's the kind of feeling you will get.
All in all Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP doesn't fall in the trap of overambition thanks to its many solid, innovative features. It may border on being a an experience, and sure there are some weaker puzzles here. But all of this washes away due to the fact that Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a prime example of just how creative games can be.
Is it a game for everyone? Definitely not. But if you pine for something different you should follow your instinct and pick this up. The game made me believe in tablets as gaming devices, and an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.