Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP from Toronto’s Superbrothers and Capybara Games is the video game I always wanted but didn’t know I wanted until it existed. I’ve hyped the game pre-release in the past, but now that’s out (it’s been available on the iPad for weeks, but today it is available for iPhones and iPods Touch), I am happy to report that it’s a wonderful, unique gaming experience — pixelly, musical, funny, stylish, and strangely immersive.
My own work is heavily influenced by the style, humour, and pacing in the old pixelly Sierra adventure game Space Quest 2. I played it start-to-finish repeatedly as a kid, and it’s a style of game I am sad has fallen out of favour with the advent of first person shooters and 3D graphics. It was a game that involved reading and taking an active part in a narrative. And casually exploring the 2D environments was like being able to walk around a picture book. It’s a game that dropped you into a world that you had figure out on your own through exploration and play.
Enter Sword & Sworcery, and that feeling is back. With its singular artistic vision (Craig D Adams aka Superbrothers), its short tweet-sized text elements, and its minimal style in both design and gameplay, Sworcery almost has more in common with comics and picture books than it does with most of today’s crop of videogames. I hope it inspires and influences more games of its kind. It is a poem when other games aim to be epic novels.
It’s a narrative experience that Craig calls I/O Cinema, and it somehow succeeds where motion comics and other forms of interactive fiction have failed, mainly by not trying to be a digital version of something else.
I must also mention that much of the game’s success is due to musician Jim Guthrie’s contributions; the music and sound effects take this slow-paced, meditative walking-around game and make it epic and beautiful. Animators take note: good music and sound design does half your job for you.
App Store links: Universal version for iPad and iPhone | Micro version for iPhone & iPod Touch
Here’s another spoilery video to whet your appetite: