The Swapper, by Facepalm Games, is an atmospheric puzzle platformer that I've recently finished. I got the game as part of one of the Humble Bundles, saw a few review videos, put it off for a while, and finally decided to play it.

In the Swapper you play the role of an astronaut in an abandoned space station, and, like your other favourite puzzle platfomer Portal, acquire the aforementioned Swapper, which is used to solve all of the puzzle elements in the game.

The Swapper provides the user with the ability to create up to four disposable clones of oneself in a line of sight from the gun, each of which responds to the same commands as your character. In addition, you can also fire the Swapper at one of your clones to swap your soul into one of the empty containers. Death only occurs upon the death of the body that hosts your soul; the additional clones are expendable, and great for fast travel, creating and swapping the bodies as you go, disposing of them as you go along.

The puzzles are exceptionally well done, implemented through the presence of lights which either prevent the spawning of clones or the prevention of swapping with the clones. Difficulty ramps up slowly, but progression does not require the completion of all the puzzles except to complete the game, and I skipped a few puzzles before returning to them later in the game.

The atmosphere is beautiful as well. One of the things that I first noticed in the game was the music, an ethereal, gentle background, adding to the beautiful art and visual effects. I complained before that the game would function just as well with lower quality graphics, which I hold to, as the game required some tinkering on my part to enable it to run, and the visual static that appears sometimes serves to be very distracting, but overall the atmosphere adds to the game.

The narration is provided through a series of consoles on the station, and the presence of another ghostly person in the station. The plot is carried adequately well, although I feel that it lacks engagement, due to the personality of the characters who deliver it.

Spoilers ahead.

But the most interesting thing about the game its debate about morality. Mind-body duality is assumed in the game, with the presence of a "soul" or something outside the physical body. You spend the entire game disposing of your clones to progress, with the idea that the body is merely a container for the soul, but it is revealed that you yourself are a clone of someone else; with no explanation of why you still possess a "soul".

This, of course, retroactively gives reconsideration to the death of the clones in pursuit of your goal, but the final ending is the one that gives you the moral choice.

It's a choice. Between death and murder. Your choice is to stay abandoned on the alien planet to die, or to swap your mind into the rescuer's body. And in the end it depends on your survival instinct.

The story has an undercurrent of "doing anything to survive", and the story leans towards that as the choice. However, it ends up as whether or not you have the right tot take someone else's life in order to preserve your own. And I would have swapped into the new body, if he hadn't been a rescuer.

Because in the five seconds I was introduced to the character, I passed moral judgement upon him. His inability to rescue me was no fault of his own (the ship was ill equipped for quarantine). He had his own life, and was willing to risk himself in an attempt at rescue. Whereas I was only a clone, with memories, no past. And the plot was tightly written, with no loose ends, left me fulfilled. There was no reason to continue.

A choice between the survival of a tabula rasa, and of one morally judged to be good.

And so I chose death.

And the ending was worth it.

Tagged with gaming, philosophy
Posted on2014-06-02 04:47
Last modified on2015-05-15 09:09

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