S is for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a graphic adventure (think Monkey Island or Grim Fandango) that originally appeared on the iOS where the player controls the nameless “Scythian” who’s on a quest.  In short: it’s a good game.  I’m tickled by how Superbrothers is keenly aware of it’s being a game and not a fictional world.  As the story opens, we see the enigmatic “Archetype” character puffing on a cigar and introducing us to the tale.  There’s even a high back leather chair.  Very Hitchcock.  But the Archetype also takes an active role within the game’s world by giving helpful advice, empowering the Scythian with magical abilities, and waxing enigmatically about the nature of storytelling.  Not only clever, but humorous.  Most games need to take note of Superbrothers‘ presentation because it’s not only helpful and clever, but draws you in with humor.

And it’s visuals… see for yourself.

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Superbrothers isn’t attempting to be anything it doesn’t need to be.  Game visuals for years have been reaching for photorealism but have yet to truly grab hold of it.  Superbrothers rejects the notion entirely because it’s abstracted with old school pixels so as to remind you of the fact that you’re playing a video game.  And yet it’s so charming you can’t help but deny that fact.

The music, composed by Jim Guthrie, is wonderful.  It’s not just there to keep you from getting bored, but is intricately woven into the gameplay of the puzzles and in the few sections of combat.

Strangely, the game has a twitter feature.  As the Scythian finds locations and objects of interest, she’ll make some comment always in the first person plural and you have the option to tweet it out to the Internet.  Now I don’t necessarily like this feature because of how annoying it would make me to outsiders as I talk about strange nonsense involving the, “mountain folk of the Caucasus.”  These people are connected because they like what I say and I shouldn’t abuse that trust.  However, the tweet is always an option and since the game focuses on the subject of discussion and analysis of myth within a community, this feature is actually strangely appropriate.  And even more so that it’s always “we” and never “I”.

Probably Superbrothers‘ most exciting feature is that it recently appeared on Steam.  I remember a year ago the game caught my eye and I told myself, “Man, do I need to get an iPad now so I can play Superbrothers?”  Well now I don’t.  The only drawback is that controlling the game with a mouse is a bit slow.  It’s far from unplayable (combat is responsive and quick), but the general navigation of clicking on the world feels sluggish.  Maybe the developers can fix this in a future patch.

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6 Responses to “S is for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP”

  1. This sounds really interesting, glad to see it was ported over to Steam I’ll put it on the wishlist and hopefully mow through my backlog someday.

    The Archetype sounds a bit like the absolutely wonderful Narrator in Bastion. So I’m definitely looking forward to giving it a try if it’s anything like it.

    • Bastion is actually on my Steam backlog. That looks to be more of a straight up action rpg, where Superbrothers would be on the opposite end of the spectrum. Combat, while exciting, is very sparse in the game and gives deference to point and click puzzles.

      Not that I’m discouraging you from playing it, just giving you a heads up that it’s *very* different.

      • I actually picked it up in the Humble Indie Bundle recently and I’m looking forward to playing it. It’s been a while since I’ve done any puzzle games, hopefully I’m not too rusty.

      • The puzzles are pretty simple. There is also a controversial real time mechanic where (outside of cheating) your progression is tied to the phases of the actual moon. Personally, I really liked the idea.

  2. This sounds like a really cool game! I haven’t explored gaming enough. My husband loves first-person shooters, but they make me so sick to my stomach that I just gave up on games altogether. I should try some of the more narrative games. And I laughed at the “I shouldn’t abuse their trust” bit!

    • Graphic adventures used to be very popular back in the 90s and, in the last few years, have been experiencing a renaissance. So now is actually one of the best times to take a look into the genre. (Hint: The steam store and GoG.com are your friends!)

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