DANIEL WILKS has seen The Prestige, too...
There’s something terrifying about the concept of cloning. It’s not just the idea that you may simply be a copy of some other remote individual, but also the fact that cloning really commodifies the whole concept of life. If you can simply create a copy with all of the physical and mental attributes of the original, what value does an individual life have anymore? It’s rare for a puzzle game to approach this kind of moral conundrum, but The Swapper makes a valiant and pleasantly subtle stab at investigating a player’s attachment to his own clones.
ALL OF ME >>
Set on an abandoned space station, The Swapper takes the form of a series of locked room puzzles. With nothing but a cloning gun capable of creating up to four replicas of the nameless main character the player must navigate deadfalls, traps, vertical climbs and more. Each of the clones is slaved to the central character, mimicking their every move, but players can swap their consciousness between bodies allowing them to move to areas inaccessible without the use of the clone gun. It all sounds rather light-hearted and straightforward until you discover that every move you make and every puzzle that is solved results in the inevitable death of at least one clone. Although these clones are really just a means to an end it can be strangely unnerving to repeatedly send versions of yourself, or even the body you just occupied to its death, time and time again. Without forcing it in the slightest and through clever writing, Facepalm Games have created a puzzler that makes you question to what lengths you would go to survive.
DEAD AGAIN >>
The puzzles start off relatively simple, with few taking more than a few minutes to figure out, but they soon ramp up to being immensely challenging combinations of lateral thinking, quick timing and precision, forcing the player to think longer and harder about each successive puzzle. This is both the greatest strength and weakness of The Swapper. The puzzles can be genuinely brilliant, but some of them require so much trial and error and rethinking that completing them doesn’t bring the elation of winning so much as the relief that you don’t have to do it again. Some of the later puzzles also require so much precision that it’s all too easy to miss a solution even when you’re right on top of it. Even so, The Swapper is a highly accomplished and extremely enjoyable bit of puzzle gaming with a piquant seasoning of psychological horror. If you have the patience and disdain for replicant life, The Swapper should definitely appeal.