You might have noticed that I did not add 'Platformer' to the genre of the game, despite having this listed as one. I just can't think of this game as a platfomer. There are no death traps, no enemies to avoid, no coins or baubles to collect... it's simply an adventure game that happens to have some platforms in it.
Let me get some of the technical stuff out of the way before I continue.
The game is configured to work with both PS and X-360 controllers, if you wish to use one. You can adjust the sensitivity of both the controller and the mouse, if you're using the keyboard, through the Options menu. There you can also adjust the screen resolution -- from 640x480 up to 1920x1080 -- the volume, Windowed or Full-screen, etc. I highly recommend making sure the subtitles are ON whilst you're there -- There is an aspect of the story that I totally would have missed if I'd not had the subtitles on. If you want to adjust the keyboard settings, it's on the bottom right of the Options screen.
So how does the gameplay work? Well, I can't elaborate on that too much without giving things away, but I will give you what I can without adding spoilers
I do want to mention that there are hidden areas with extra story (via terminals,) which I knew nothing about until I finished the game. Also, please note that you will get to the point that you realize you are going to have to have Godlike reflexes and tracking abilities to be able to progress in the game... Until you realize that there is a way to slow everything down to a crawl, which will allow you the time you need to get things done. Incredibly helpful, not to mention necessary, since I don't think *anyone* can react that quickly!
Back to the topic at hand, which is the gameplay. You hold a "swapping" device in your hands that has two abilities: First is the duplicate function. What this does is create exact replicas of you, and your replica(s) will mimic every move you make. You can have up to four duplicates at any given time. If they "die" you can create another to take its place, and when your duplicates touch you, they disappear, allowing you to make another. Second is the "swapping" beam. Zap any of your replicas with this beam to have your consciousness transferred to that body. The swapping beam has one more function, and I mention it only because I got completely stuck, having NO idea you could do this: If you are in freefall, you can use the beam to "push" yourself through space.
The game progresses through a series of puzzles based upon these abilities. There are obstacles in that the swapping device reacts differently around colored lights. For instance, you can create a duplicate within red light, but your swapping beam is completely blocked by the red. The opposite holds true within blue light, and so on.
There is one puzzle that requires your bodies to be in exactly
the right places (only one that is fiddly that way), one puzzle requires really good timing, and just one had me completely stumped to the point I had to come back to it the next day. Solving the rest of the puzzles ranged from deceptively easy to, "
that felt SO good
You might think by reading the above that this is just a puzzle game, but no -- this is a true adventure at heart, and so deeply environmental that it really feels as if you're problem-solving like you would any day in real life. The devs have achieved this immersion through various ways, which I will describe below.
The music sets the tone so beautifully, so perfectly, that you don't really notice it at first. Never distracting, I was more than once surprised to realize that not only was it was there, that it was lovely to listen to, as well. "Lovely?" you ask, "In an atmospheric psychological horror?" To that I say, "Absolutely!" Just go with it, you'll see what I mean when you play
The voices are done incredibly well, never feeling stilted or out-of-place.
And that brings me to the story, that which binds the whole game together in this richly-woven tapestry. The story progresses in multiple ways. You will occasionally hear voices (
... No, not that kind of "hearing voices"!) as you progress through the game, and, as mentioned, they are very well done. Next up are the terminals, which give you snippets of conversations and orders from the command of this place you're in. Lastly you have the thoughts of... something(s), which I will not give away.
When I first saw the graphics, I thought they looked blurry... fuzzy, even. It's amazing how differently you perceive things when you're actually playing the game yourself, and not just looking at screenshots or a video. Suffice to say that the graphics contribute to the overall feeling of the game. Somehow, The Swapper
reminds me of John Carpenter's The Thing
. No, there's no parasitic life form trying to assimilate and/or mutilate you, but those feelings... Cold. Alone. Uneasy. It is all of these and more.
This is truly a must-play game for anyone who enjoys a deeply environmental game with a powerful tale to tell... a tale whose full implications I have yet to digest. Better yet, this is a game that can be enjoyed even more upon subsequent play-throughs... And that is something I will be even more happy to do now that I know I missed some of the content my first time through.