So I just got a chance to play an awesome little Indie Game The Swapper, which was one of the games I picked up in the Huge Seal Deal, a ‘build your own steam sale” promotion that popped up recently. The Swapper is a game that I’ve seen featured on many top ten and recommendation lists in the past but, as always, never actually played. This is partially down to the fact I had gotten it confused with Routine, a horror game set on a space station that I am way to much of a baby to play.
Now, I haven’t had time to play much and this is by no means a review, just some thoughts on the game and it’s very unique art style. I’m hoping to make a video on it soon.
Anyway, the art style of The Swapper is wonderful. There’s something truly incredible, beautiful and rare in the fact that it was created with clay. The character models, the environments everything. The moment you play you’ll notice this beautiful handcrafted look to everything. Throw in sound effects which are so soft, papery and small and you’ll get this wonderful faux-real effect. The environments look so textured and detailed (not to mention terrifyingly atmospheric) it begins to feel very realistic, as if it’s a real model running around behind your computer, but at the same time are very obviously… unrealistic. It’s hard to explain and it’s comparable to the feeling that I get from watching stop motion like Wallace and Gromit, of a detailed world that exists beyond what we see on-screen. It also gives a much better feeling of depth as the models in the game literally do have depth in real life.
Obviously, this kind of animation and design is time-consuming a very difficult to do well; character meshes are hard enough to achieve with computer models without the added pain of trying to use real physical models, however the rare games that use it are one that will stand the test of time. The process reminds of the film Moon, with Sam Rockwell (which is an awesome film in case anyone hasn’t seen it), which in place of conventional CGI in lunar scenes used real life scale models of the lunar rovers, machinery and harvesters we see in the film (though obviously a lot of secondary and polish effects were computer generated). It’s a beautiful example of a low-budget film taking a really creative approach to large set pieces usually dominated by often jarring special effects.
Before I go though, there is one game I cannot pass up mentioning. It is the genre defining game for me when it comes to claymation video games and it passed a lot of excess time for me in High School: Platypus
Oh man oh man play this game. You won’t regret it. I can’t tell you when this game was first released, but it was at least 2006. Made by Anthony Flak, the entire game is crafted lovingly in clay. The detail in this game will blow you away and I’m not joking when I say it’s nigh on impossible to date due to the incredible art style. With a classic Arcady two player mode and even a pretty nice story, it’s an example of the expansive, expressive beauty of video games and we desperately need more of it! You can find out more about Platypus and Platypus II on the beautifully dated website here and it can be found to play I think on most miniclip/flash game sites. Pretty sure it’s on iOS too.
Anyway, yeah not exactly about The Swapper but just some thoughts on its unique art style. Give it a try! If you enjoy classic Metroid (albeit slower & less shooty) orientated puzzle games, you’ll love it.