Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a really strange game. I love it. It was a collaboration between musician Jim Guthrie, the game studio Superbrothers, and publisher/developer Capybara Games.
It initially released for iPad on March 24, 2011 with an iPhone version about a month later. A Steam version was released in April 2012, with an Android version later in December. I’d recommend the iPad or Steam version, the small phone screens don’t do it justice.
I’m going to try really, really hard to write this in a way that doesn’t spoil the game, though the nature of the game makes that very hard. It really doesn’t want to fit in a specific genre of game, so the best I can do is say that it’s a 2D adventure/puzzle/rhythm game told in second person. It’s really hard to describe. I recommend going in completely blind, preferably alone and wearing headphones.
Here’s a mostly spoiler-free synopsis: the plot centers around a mysterious book called The Megatome, and follows a character only known as The Scythian trying to complete her “woeful errand.” Saying any more would ruin the game, as slowly piecing together the reasons for your actions is a major part of the game.
The artwork and sound design in this game is amazing. The visuals are a beautiful mix of pixel art and smooth geometric shapes unlike anything I have seen before or since. Jim Guthrie did an amazing job on the sound design. The music is incredible, and it has such an important role that the game has EP in the title. I still listen to the soundtrack regularly, and I was listening to it while writing this blog post!
The art, sound, and gameplay all work together to create an amazing sense of atmosphere that few games have managed to pull off. At times the game is calm and reserved, and at other times it is actively trying to terrify you. It’s an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.
Minor spoilers follow, you have been warned.
The game is sometimes possible to beat in one sitting, but sometimes it is physically impossible to do so without cheating. The game takes place over four “sessions,” and events within some sessions depend on the real-life cycles of the moon. The game can be completed in a single sitting (without cheating) as long as it is not a full moon or a new moon. If you cheat and change the time on your device, you can only ever get 99% completion and you get the achievement “Cheating Cheater.”