Steam Cleaning #5: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

EP? Extended Play? Isn’t that like an album thing?

Yes. Yes it is.

S:S&S is an atmospheric synth album disguised as a point and click adventure game. It isn’t a very convincing disguise. Even the main menu has a vinyl record in the background.

The point and click adventure itself is very tongue-in-cheek. The dialogue has an irreverent way of making me chuckle, and it’s almost entirely due to the characterization. The main character talks of loathing rainbows and how worthless sheep are, the woodcutter freaks out over losing his keys, and everyone seems simultaneously terrified and nonplussed by all the weird things that happen in this game.

I played through the first two sections (I want to call them ‘Tracks,’ but I don’t think the game does.) In one I traveled a path to retrieve a tome from an evil spirit-thing, and in the other I stilled a storm and obtained the power of miracles by using psychic sworcery. I assume the game gets even weirder.

There are a good few anti-frustration features. Each of the puzzles in part two have magic mushrooms sitting by on the ground. Getting high gets you more in tune with nature, man, and you can totally get the vibes of what you gotta do.

ahem Sorry.

The game even has a rhythm-based combat that is used more for story moments than anything. I appreciated that there were no random battles. The game, like every part of the soundscape, is very intentional. It wants to be an experience.

I can’t help but wonder if it needed to be a game, though. I love the art and the text banter and the sound, but the gameplay is just touching, tapping, and swiping until you figure each thing out. If this game were a series of long music videos instead, would that be better or worse? Would the lack of engagement kill the game? Would the lack of tension when obtaining the miracle change the enjoyment of the experience? Maybe, yeah, maybe it would.

The fact that I asked the above question tells you what I think of this as a game, though. It’s a slow and esoteric experience with very little challenge, yet pleasing to the eye, ear, and mind. I liked it. I don’t see myself finishing it.

I looked up how long the game is, and apparently certain story beats only unlock after real-life days have passed. The cycle of the moon and all that. I can’t see myself coming back to this after 7 days to unlock another part, really. It’s good but not ‘anticipate for a week good.’

Verdict: 1.25 hours played. Pleasant.

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