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Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review:  April 13, 2013
Format Reviewed:   iOS
Language / Country of Origin:   English / Canada
Online Capability:  The game interacts with Twitter, in that players can tweet from in-game, illustrating where they are and their accomplishments.
Equipment Needed: None needed.
Maintenance Required:  None required, apart from online updates.

Review:

Plot:
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is an 8-bit inspired side-scrolling adventure game.  The hero of the game is a warrior called The Scythian, who is on a quest in the Caucasus Mountains to rid evil from the world.  Her adventures take her through caves, battling dark wicked forces through beautiful mountains, meadows, forests, and subterranean caves – all on a mission to restore order and light.Superbros 2

The game focuses on exploration, requiring players to interact with the environment to solve puzzles, fight battles and progress.  The game’s title comes from the distinct focus that the game has on music, with various boards (aka “sessions”) having distinct musical tracks and different worlds being represented by the A- and B-sides of a vinyl record.

Although an adventure game, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP takes a minimalistic approach to storytelling.  There are no long cut scenes, just random, short text-box commentary that appears after interacting with particular items or people (“In a secluded grove, we met a mysterious fellow hanging out beside a crackling fire” or “We spied a few worthless sheep lazing around in the meadow”).  If they so choose, players can tweet these commentary messages to their Twitter accounts from within the game.  The messages are often funny but do not reveal much about the characters or their world.

Gameplay:
With the iOS version of this game, players tap the touch screen to tell the character where to go.  To cast spells and use magic, players must tap and hold on the character (The Scythian).  The game must be rotated during certain portions of gameplay, such as during battle or if the player wants to access the Megatome (a book that lets the player read the thoughts of other characters).  During battle, players have a choice of using either their sword or their shield.  Either is activated by touching on the appropriate symbol.

Although difficult, players can die in battle, but health can be restored either by eating magic mushrooms that are found scattered throughout the world or by holding up their shield in battle.

The game incorporates two separate worlds: the waking world and the dreaming world.  Players access the dreaming world by going to sleep (i.e. sitting down on a stool).

Time is inherently important in the game and certain boards are only accessible during various phases of the moon (full, crescent or dark).  This means that players must wait a certain number of days before they can advance in the game.  Of course, there are ways to cheat around this, but if players cheat, they cannot receive a 100% completion rate of the game.  Overall, the game is divided into four separate sessions.

Cultural / Historical Value:
Superbrothers Sword and Sworcery EP was one of the most highly nominated games of 2012, having been nominated for 12 separate awards (and winning six of them).  Time magazine declared the game one of the top ten videogames of 2011.  Overall, the game was praised by critics, who admired the inventive prog-rock influenced soundtrack (written and performed by indie rocker, Jim Guthrie) and the breathtaking 8-bit-inspired visuals.  The creative gameplay was also commended, with critics lauding the exploration of and interaction with the environment via the tilting and rotating of the iOS device.  Critics also liked the imaginative link between the waking and dreaming worlds – symbolized by the turning over of an LP to its B-side.

The game appears to borrow frequently from videogames of the past.  In particular, The Legend of Zelda, whose influence is strongly felt with relation to the Trigon.  (I also felt a strong connection between this game and the Atari 2600 version of Pitfall (some of the sound effects felt like déjà vu), but that may just be me.)  At the time of this writing, over one million people have downloaded the iOS version of this game.

Superbros 3Teaching / Learning Characteristics:
For most players, there is not much to learn from this title, although it is a good exercise in patience.  Certain parts of the game are only available during certain phases of the moon – forcing players to wait (unless they cheat and set their device’s or computer’s clock ahead) until the moon changes.  Game developers can learn from this title, however.  This game is a good example of an indie game with mass appeal, beautiful graphics, and an innovative soundtrack.

Replay Value:  
The game is relatively linear, lacking an open world and side missions to complete.  Therefore, it is not likely that players would pick it up to replay it again once it is completed.

Likely Audiences:
Adventure game fans.  Jim Guthrie fans.  Fans of 8-bit artwork and the The Legend of Zelda series.  Those looking for a relaxing videogame with beautiful artwork and stunning visuals.

Overall Score:
90/100.

Other Reviews:
1up.com
Gamerankings
Gamespot
Metacritic
MobyGames

 

About the Author:
Shannon L. Farrell, MLIS, MS
is a Liaison Librarian at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  Having been an avid gamer for the last 25 years, she has a great interest in incorporating videogames into library and educational environments.  She has conducted research on the topic, examining current use of videogames in libraries and the resources available for collection development purposes.  Shannon is a member of the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table.  Since she plays videogames on a daily basis, Shannon will be a regular contributor and editor of reviews for VideoGameCat.  She also maintains the VideoGameCat Twitter (@thevideogamecat) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thevideogamecat) accounts.

Awards

Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2011Best Independent Game Nominee
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Audio Nominee
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Downloadable Game Winner
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Game Design Finalist
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Game On The Go Winner
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Indie Game Winner
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Original Music Winner
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Visual Arts Finalist
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Best Writing Finalist
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Game of the Year Finalist
Canadian Video Game Awards 2012Innovation Award Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Best Downloadable Nominee
International Mobile Gaming Awards 2012Most Innovative Game Winner

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