In 1885, German biologist Hans Driesch demonstrated that you could produce two sea urchins from a single embryo cell. Ever since then, society has been intrigued by cloning and the controversial practice has continued to this day. It's a tricky subject to discuss due to the many moral issues surrounding cloning. Should man play God? How could clones be used? These are some of the many quandaries that apply to the issue.
Finnish Developer Facepalm Games has used cloning as the basis of their debut game, The Swapper This unique puzzle platformer gives the player the control of a cloning device that allows the protagonist to create clones of themselves. These clones are incapable of independent thought, as they all copy the movements of the player.
While the mechanic is interesting in regards to the game's difficult puzzles, it's even more intriguing due to how violent the action can be. Clones in The Swapper are often killed mere moments after being created. These human beings are being used completely as a tool, as a means to an end. The Swapper's elegant gameplay is perfectly contrasted by the pure brutality of the player's actions.
The player's gun can do more than just clone, as swapping places with created clones is another key mechanic. This makes the player incredibly agile as they can create a clone 30 feet away and zap to their position instantly. Time temporarily slows down while aiming the device, which removes the chance of constant deaths due to slow reaction speeds.
As you can surmise, The Swapper is a sci-fi tale set in the future. The general premise of being alone on a mysterious spaceship isn't novel, but The Swapper's story is told with such maturity and grace that it becomes something truly special. A lot of the world building can be found in terminal logs spread throughout the spaceship, so you'll have to do a solid amount of reading and exploration to fully enjoy the story. That being said, the story is so expertly crafted that you'll want to seek out every last terminal.
To advance through the ship, the protagonist will have to obtain orbs that are found throughout. These orbs are almost always a reward for solving a tricky puzzle, so be prepared to have your thinking cap on. The Swapper starts off challenging and never lets up. This is a game that requires a lot perseverance and brainpower (or a good walkthrough) to succeed.
There is a large map to fill out and players wouldn't be too far off the mark if they compared The Swapper to a Metroidvania-style game. There are secrets to find in the ship, so backtracking is a necessary if you wish to see everything but moving around the ship is not a chore, however, as there are teleporter pads sprinkled throughout.
The Swapper constantly challenges the player by restricting the amount of clones on screen, the player's movement, or where they can place clones. Several times throughout playing, we felt as if we had mastered the game's concepts, only to be stumped at the next puzzle. The Swapper will get the best of you, but it is just so satisfying once you figure out a solution.
Just as impressive as the narrative and gameplay is the visual style. All of the art assets that are seen here were originally modelled in clay before being digitized into the game. This creates a unique, gorgeous style that is seen throughout the entire journey. Every inch of the spaceship is gorgeous in its own unique way, which makes exploration a blast.
Rounding out the aesthetic presentation is a stellar soundtrack that helps in crafting one of the most immersive gaming experiences on the market. Composer Carlo Castellano has put together a brilliant original soundtrack and one that captures the atmosphere of every level perfectly. It's in keeping with the overall package though, as we'd go as far as to say that every aspect of The Swapper has been crafted flawlessly, from the sound design through to gameplay and back again.
Few games fully realize their potential. Thankfully The Swapper is able to execute all of its ideas. The challenging and thought-provoking puzzles are only outdone by the rich narrative which will stay in your mind well after the credits roll. The Swapper is a masterpiece that needs to be experienced.
Do yourself a favour and make sure The Swapper is the next game you play.