Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Sword and Sworcery is about a Scythian on a quest to release an evil entity from immortality by uploading a Megatome at the summit of a mountain. It combines wonderful music and narrative together to form a kind of meditative gameplay experience. The Scythian is either a classic surfer dude or a valley girl—whichever you imagine applies, I suppose, since there’s no mention of the main character’s gender. It’s a wonderful gaming experience that takes a month to beat if you play it honestly and six hours average if you choose to cheat. While that might be short, it’s certainly worth the price it asks.

The first instantly recognizable trait of the game is its music. Stepping into the world for the first time, you’re greeted with the perfect music for the occasion. This absolutely perfect rendition throughout the game showed how closely the programmers and music artist worked together. Along with the music, the game plays symphonic sound effects that blend with the music—there was one part where I actually thought drum beats were playing in the background, and then realized it was just an enemy tapping his shield with a club. These little bits of musical mastery make the game shine.

Along with the music, the graphics and narrative perfectly blend together. Although pixelated, the graphics of the game seem to be painstakingly composed, with everything being in just the right pixel. You can interact with almost anything and an alliterative description will pop up above the character that you can decide to tweet. The only disadvantage of exploring is the slow walking speed of the character (even when they’re high-tailing it), but the game makes up for it by making the exploring experience an amazing one, with many things to look at and interact with.

You can also open up your Megatome and read the minds of other characters—sometimes they have something deep to say, while other times they just give off nonsense. While not plot-required, this little side narrative kept me opening the Megatome frequently. Every now and then a hint to the plot or secrets of the world would appear. It was an intimate experience. For that reason, I’m glad the game is only single player.

The puzzles of the game are simple, but inventive. The same mechanic of singing is used to make small sprites appear, who then make miracles to help you progress through the game. There are a few variations to it, but overall it’s the same mechanic. Because you target different things for each song, the mechanic never gets boring; in fact, it can be frustrating at times. It’s always clear when and where you have to do something, just not how.

Battles in the game have a similar take—you only have two devices to use, a sword and shield. A sword attacks, a shield defends, and pressing the shield at the right time will cause you to dodge. There are many attacks that will instantly kill a character, so dodging is key. The control scheme is very clunky on PCs, since you have to quickly switch from a sword to shield, and you can’t map the mouse clicks to the keyboard. Otherwise, the game has a perfect level of difficulty. It’s challenging, but not impossibly so.

There are many questions left unanswered at the end, and perhaps it’s better left that way. The story feels complete, and the journey to its end is a very poetic experience. Despite completing the game, I find myself replaying it just because it’s such a meditative experience. It doesn’t get old or boring, and the music is indescribably epic as you play through. This game is well worth a try on either your phone or PC and is one of the best indie games on the market right now.