Not finishing games, apparently! I’ve been in kind of a rut. And I’ve been playing games that have no real ending like Warframe. I’ve got The Last of Us, and it’s great, but playing it hurts my eyes for some reason, so I can’t play it for long stretches. I’ve been playing random games in search of Steam trading cards. I can’t explain why.
Remember when I said that the less I said about The Swapper, the better? The Polygon reviewed it recently and the summary of the review is the best thing I’ve seen written about it.
The Swapper is a slow and thoughtful game unnervingly fixated on its gratuitous death toll. It’s a puzzle game that asks you to consider your actions, both literally and mentally — what they did and what they cost. It is the space marine shooter inverted. Its antagonists are immobile, talkative rocks; its environment is static and action-free; its sole weapon only kills you. And The Swapper is a fantastic puzzle game because its best riddles are the ones that can’t be solved.
It’s a rainy day so it’s a good time to wrap up some of these indie games I’ve got lying around. Thomas Was Alone was recently ported to PSN and featured in Humble Bundle 8, which prompted me to give it a go. I’ve had it for a while, but I’ve got a whole mess of indie games thanks to Humble Bundles and Indie Royales and Indie Galas. Just ludicrous amounts of indie games, and not enough time to sort through the winners.
Thomas Was Alone is a winner. It’s a simple puzzle platformer, using colored rectangles to represent AIs in a computer system. The story follows Thomas as he meets other AIs and they generally cause catastrophe for this computer system. The outside perspective comes from quotes that appear at the beginning of each chapter, but what makes Thomas Was Alone more than just a simplistic platformer is the narration in game. Each of the AIs has its own personality and motivations and abilities. Thomas can jump, but Claire can flow in deadly water. Using these abilities, the task is to get each AI to a particular spot in the level.
Without the excellent narration and music, this game would be fairly unremarkable. I wouldn’t have kept playing without it, but I don’t think the game was designed to be a fantastic platformer. It’s a competent platformer that stands out because of the story elements that accompany it.
4 out of 5 jumping quadrilaterals
“The Swapper” is kind of a dumb name, but this game is excellent. It is parts the movie Moon, parts Metroid, and parts Braid. It takes place in space, you’re (almost) alone, and it relies on clever use of simple mechanics to solve a bunch of puzzles. It just over three hours long, and the puzzles involve cloning yourself a lot and transferring your consciousness to your clones. That’s probably about as much as I should say about it. If you liked Braid, get it. It scratches that Braid itch very well.
5 out of 5 talking rocks
This is one I started a long time ago, and just got around to finishing. It’s a puzzle-platformer, in that you do a lot of running around and jumping on things, and you use a cutting laser, grapple, and rockets to chop up the terrain to get to where you need to go. It’s fun and physics-y and it’s got a great cartoon style. It’s not very long, but it’s a little frustrating in parts because sometimes the physics don’t behave like you want them to. I plummeted to my death a lot. And every boss fight is the same. You use your laser to chop up things being thrown at you. All in all, it’s a pretty enjoyable diversion but could have used a little more polish.
3 out of 5 underpants gnomes