The Swapper Review – PS Vita

August 12, 2014

It’s so hard these days to be unique and stand out from everything else. Most games take something/everything from something/everything else because nothing is considered original anymore. And more often than not, you end up with a disappointing product in your hands and an equally disappointing wallet situation. I’ve always been especially cautious with digital games because there is no refund, no money back guarantee, no sweet talking the person in the games area into letting them refund it for you. And that person used to be me, so I know them feels.

Sometimes a title comes along that just absolutely blows me away. An innovative and cleverly crafted game, The Swapper gave me an experience I’ve not had for quite a while from a video game; an experience where the desire to persevere was strong and engrossed me entirely for the whole duration. It was a truly beautiful experience.


The Swapper is a short but sweet puzzle platformer from Facepalm Games, a tiny team based in Helsinki. It holds several awards, including the Indie Game Challenge (2012), IndieCade (2011) and was part of PAX 10 (2012). Officially released in May 2013, it was welcomed into the gaming community with open arms and received raving reviews from all corners of the internet. It has only recently been released on PSN for NA/EU, for both the Playstation 4, 3 and the Vita.

You begin isolated on a space station seemingly alone until a voice piercing through the perfectly crafted ambience, devoid of all that is life, reaches out to you. Relaying anything and everything from instructions to questioning its raison d’être, this voice becomes your guide, your muse, your hope, as you continue on.

The one and only item you have in the game is a cloning device, aptly named the swapper, a gun that allows you to project a clone of yourself (up to four) within a certain range and swap your consciousness, soul and control to that being. The philosophy that unfolds as you further progress through The Swapper is a dark and somber one at that, prompting you to question yourself as if it were real. These clones, are they just that? Are they truly just entities with no thought of their own? What exactly am I leaving behind to die when I swap to another? Or have they swapped to me? Where is the original? Original….

That's deep, man.

That’s deep, man.

Created from hand-crafted clay models and common found objects, the visual experience within The Swapper is one that perfectly complements every aspect of the game and vice-versa. With everything so decorously placed, one is presented with a stimulating environment that encourages you to pay attention to the finer details and look deep past the foreground. The clever use of lighting attributes to the slightly melancholic atmosphere of isolation and despair throughout the game.

Alright, so the next space train home is.......oh.

Alright, so the next space train home is…….oh.

My favourite thing when it comes to audio in games is actually not being able to “hear” it at all. Being blissfully unaware of the music until suddenly a piano key strikes through and all your attention is diverted to your ears and what you hear, like you’ve just discovered something new. I like that a lot. The music throughout the game perfectly compliments each and every area. It’s a combination of the blissfully somber sound of space (if space had a sound, like moving air), a perfectly arranged set of melodies and the sound effects of your actions echoing through the empty spaces. The transition between areas is seamless too, diverting your attention to everything but sound itself.

Ingeniously designed puzzles are the core of this game. At first they seem relatively challenging (place clone here and there, swap to clone there and move forward), but the introduction of the coloured lights together with gravity reversing fields soon provide a challenge. Anywhere a blue light reaches is an area where you are unable to create a new clone in or through, whilst areas bathed in the red light prevent the ability to swap to another clone in or past that area. Purple lit areas are the best of both worlds where your gun just does not work at all, providing increased difficulty. The areas housing these puzzles are not large in size, or connected to other rooms, therefore your main focus is generally kept to the small space in front of you. Lateral thinking is required and sometimes you might have to take a step back with a particular puzzle until you’ve tried something else further down the track to inspire you. Luckily you are able to progress and move freely through the entire space station without completing every single puzzle. However, to finish the game and view the ending, you are required to have all puzzles solved. The satisfaction when completing a hard puzzle is overwhelming and instantly compels you to find the next to solve. I spent close to 30 minutes on a particular puzzle. Lots and lots of trial and error coupled with “what if…”.

Wait, where did we come from? Who are you? Who am I? I'm you!

Wait, where did we come from? Who are you? Who am I? I’m you!

Thankfully the controls for the Vita version are fluid and work well with the game dynamics. Dual joysticks are for moving, L for new clone, R for control swap, buttons for their respective item interactions and touch screen for map navigation. You can put down the game for two weeks (though why would you?) and pick it up again without fumbling to remember what does what.

While I don’t want to ruin or promise a certain experience for everyone, or detail EVERYTHING about the game to you (I really would love nothing more), I will end on this – The Swapper will grow on you. The further you progress, the more you fall in love with and appreciate every single tiny detail that Facepalm Games has put in. An appreciation for the music and graphics for me personally are unmatched in anything else I’ve ever played. A truly fantastic gaming experience that I wish never ended.


Everything. Deep story, brilliant visual presentation, soundtrack that creates "them feels".


Trophies are near impossible to find unless you want to spend 20 hours via trial an error.

Overall Score: