- Jan 9, 2011
The Swapper, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Ethics and Loved Cloning
The Swapper is a side-scrolling puzzle game with arcade elements. There are no enemies in this game, no time limit, no "active" environmental hazards. And everything is made out of clay (like The Neverhood) and some post-processing effects, giving the game a very atmospheric feel.
Surprisingly, the game has quite a nice story, told in a unobtrusive way. You may ignore it and just focus on the puzzles. The game isn't particularly hard, though there are one or two rooms that are quite annoying and take more time than the others.
This game isn't the usual Codex fare, nevertheless, I think it deserves some attention from the monocled audience.
I'll try to go with the flow of the game, while providing some explanations or comments when I feel like it. This LP could also be used as a walkthrough.
You can find it on Steam for ~14EUR. The game is really nice to play and has multiple endings (all of them will be covered in this LP), but offers no real replyability.
It also has awesome achievements, that most of the folks will never get during normal playthrough. I'll show them near the end of the LP.
The first installement covers 5-7 minutes of actual gameplay.
Official soundtrack, highly recommended!
Part 01: Intro and Tutorial area
The Theseus is the main setting of the game. I couldn't get a better screenshot, but there are three solar panels on the station.
And here we have first glimpse of our protagonist, in something that looks like a Kerbal rocket. It is, in fact, made from a can, some nails, washers, and clay. I have no idea how the developers made such awesome lighting on it though.
So, apparantely we left the spacestation in something akin to a escape pod and crashed on the planet below. Might as well explore. We'll go to the right, since there is a big piece of rock to the left.
That about covers the controls. Pretty standard fare this days.
Ups, forgot one more button to interact with the environment. There are couple of kinds of devices we will be able to interact with. Anyway, proceeding onwards to the right.
Mhm, Site 24. So part of something bigger I guess.
We'll get quite a lot chatter like that. The spacesuit is patched into the space station and excavation comm networks, so we'll get broadcasts from it.
The map. I'll post our current location quite frequently. However, you can't really get lost in this game. The main function of the map is to show where some special stuff is, and give you the general feel of the shape of the location you are in. It is also useful in one or two puzzles further down the road.
Way to the right is blocked, so we'll go to the left instead.
And here we find the Swapper device. It is the only tool we'll have at our disposal to solve puzzles. More info on mechanics below.
When you hold RMB you get a red outline. When you release the button, a perfect copy of our protagonist will show up in the outlined space. It will also receive every single input we make, hence replying what the main body does. The camera is always focused on the main though. At any point you can have up to 4 alts. If you bump into any of your alts, it gets absorbed, and you can spawn a new one.
Now we can go back to the intersection, and open the gate blocking way to the right. The thing with five lights in the upper right corner is a switch. Put a clone on it and it will activate.
After the gate is open, we can proceed to the right.
The next room requires marginally more thinking. There are two switches, one on the "ground" floor, the second one above. The ground floor one opens the gate above. The way to solve it is to create a clone in front of the gate, and then move right and jump at one point, till the alt gets on the top switch to unlock the rightmost gate.
Once we leave a room, all your clones inside are destroyed, and we can create four more in the next one.
This room requires all four clones to open four gates.
Important thing to remember is that those bright shafts of light cancel all our clones. It's basically Material Emancipation Grill from Portal.
Consoles are the second channel through which we get the story information (first being broadcasts). Don't worry if stuff read here doesn't make any sense now, it will once more is known.
Hmm, so apparantly we didn't left the station on our own volition. Would be nice to learn more about that UNIDENTIFIED VOICE.
Can't do anything but take the elevator down.
We'll go right again.
We've found an upgrade for our swapper device. We can now "swap" into a clone. This means that our source body becomes an alt, and the destination a main, with all the camera refocusing etc. In the above case, our clone is left to rot inside the pit, while we happily trudge back left to the junction.
Another example of the same mechanic, just to make sure we really get it.
The next room introduces another important mechanic - the blue light. You can't create a clone inside of it, but you can swap into one.
Using a combination of clone creation and swapping (without movement), we place a clone on the top switch, which opens up the road to the left.
The next room introduces yet another mechanic - the red light. This one blocks swapper ray, so you can't swap into a clone in, or behind, such light, but you can create new clones.
Quite a lot of puzzles in this game can be distilled to this mechanic - push a switch to remove some light, create clone in the right place, swap to it, leave other to succumb to an unknown death.
The console mentiones security orbs - those are mcguffins we'll have to collect in order to progress. The flavor text seems to indicate that the station and the dig was manned, but we haven't met anyone yet.
We'll continue to the left.
So it seems that UNIDENTIFIED VOICE isn't a member of the mining operation crew. It also seems that we just need to hold out for one day, and a rescue party will come. How hard could that be?
Going left, then down, we find an inactive teleport. The console says we need one security orb to activate it. Since this looks like the best way out of here (our pod kerbaled instead of landing), so we better try to find some. We go to the right.
Mhm, a message to Theseus Quarantine... I'm not sure whether this is correct or some translation issue. Could be the devs meant quatermaster.
Do what? Who's trying to make UNIDENTIFIED VOICE do things?
See that orb on the right? That's what we need to get. And to get it, we need to touch it with our main. We can't jump that high, and due to red light we can't just create a clone there and swap into it. There is a switch on the left though, so we can see what it does.
Getting an orb udpdates our map, and the orb counter in the top left corner of it. We can go back to the teleport and try to use it.
Wee, it worked! We are now on board Theseus station, ready to proceed to the right. You'll need to wait for another update to see what's beyond the door. Stay tuned!