Mento's May Madness More: #7 - Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

May the Seventh

The game: Capybara Games's Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

The source: Humble Indie Bundle V

The pre-amble: Superbrothers is an adventure game with pixel art and a strong emphasis on audio elements, using sound and music to direct much of the exploratory gameplay. The player controls an enigmatic swordswoman known only as The Scythian as she quests to quell an eternal restless spirit with the power of the Megatome and the Trigon Trifecta - artifacts of untold power. Most of the gameplay is focused on discovering where these relics are located with rudimentary point-and-click puzzles and the occasional timing-based battle.

The playthrough: Well. Superbrothers is a fine and imaginative game, I'll give it that much. The simple gameplay had a lot of neat little surprises and it was, on the whole, well scored and written. As an actual game it's a little slight, but as I explained last episode with To The Moon a dearth of any overt video game elements isn't necessarily a detriment.

But man if this game didn't rub me the wrong way throughout. So much mystical pandering. I almost expected the reward for finishing the game would be a discount voucher for healing crystals, which I could print out using the power of my own self-satisfaction. It has a very cloying psuedo-intellectual koan-spouting spiritualism to it that I don't really feel does it any favors. Nor do I particularly feel for the "transformative power of music" vibe the game is espousing as, though as effective as the audio-based puzzles were, the music is simply the same kind of tuneful ambiance I've seen a thousand times before in games like this. As stated, it's good stuff, but nothing to build an entire game around. But then music's a pretty subjective thing I suppose.

Much of the game is spent cajoling little woodland spirits from their hiding places. Just poke random (well, not entirely random) stuff and they'll show up eventually.

Honestly, as much as I enjoyed Superbrothers' little journey, it is rather up its own ass. Even more so than Fez, which was in hindsight surprisingly subdued given its author Phil "I've never met an internet flame war I didn't immediately want to pour gasoline onto" Fish. I remember recently holding Fez up as an example of how to do an Indie platformer right as well, I.E. don't make it as hard as inhumanly possible just because Super Meat Boy did it. Man, I really liked Fez a whole lot as it turns out. Digressions aside, I'd recommend Superbrothers. It's annoying in its goofy Californian (well, Torontonian) "good vibrations" musical earnestness but it's an unusual adventure game worth some attention.

...which I suppose it's gotten plenty of in the two years since it came out. Timely reviews, these.

The verdict: Beaten, won't be going back.

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