By: Michael Dao
Wandering the Indie Megabooth at PAX East 2013, certain games inevitably stand out from the others for a multitude of reasons; either they stand out visually or aurally, or there’s some snippet of gameplay seen while meandering past that makes a person pause. Swapper was certainly one of them, and with good reason. It may turn out to be one of the most visually interesting as well as thought provoking independent games released in recent memory.
Swapper, the first title from Facepalm Games of Helsinki, Finland is not just what is advertised as an atmospheric two-dimensional puzzle platformer. Don’t get me wrong, it is all of those things, but it is so much more. On a metaphysical level, it starts a conversation about what life is, what consciousness is, through the introduction of a device called a Swapper. The game takes place on an abandoned space station. The protagonist has this Swapper – and it lets them create a clone, and then transfer their consciousness to it at will. Clones can be summoned at any point in time, and placed anywhere that the player currently has line of sight to, and uncontrolled clone will simply mimic the actions of the clone that the player is actually controlling. This all seems quite simple, but when there are obstacles added to the game, such as red lights which the player cannot swap through, things suddenly become a bit more awesome. Or complex. Your choice.
The graphics in the game are what draw people to the title first, and it’s actually quite interesting. When commenting on how great they looked to the developers, they remarked that all of the objects and items in the game are based on real world items – pictures were taken of objects and clay models were taken of items and were placed in the game. A creative solution for people who are not artists. It allows them to focus on the gameplay and design aspects of their game, rather than trying to hire an artist.
Swapper is another title which really delves into some deep metaphysical questions that other media have asked in the past. In the movie Prestige, is Robert Angiers, actually him or is he a copy? If you look at Star Trek lore, there were protests with the invention of the transporter. Supposedly, a transporter works by converting matter into energy, recording all of the information on the matter, and then “beaming” it to a location where the data is used to reconstitute the physical form. Again, the question here is one left to philosophers, if the beamed person still is you, or just a copy. In Ghost in the Shell, consciousness can be transferred nearly at will. Is our ghost our soul? I suppose it all depends on what we define as consciousness, or perhaps a soul, and if that is something we can indeed transfer. All these questions will be explored when Swapper reaches us soon on Steam.
Swapper will be available on Steam later this year.