If you’re old enough to remember the Amiga classic Pipe Mania, SwapQuest may seem somewhat familiar to you. However, developers Rebusmind have gone with an unusual twist on the puzzler and turned it into an RPG, but does this unique blend of genres connect as well as it should?
You play as one of two protagonists, Wilma or Wilbert set in the land of Aventana and it is down to these two unlikely heroes to save the kingdom from an unknown force. There is a little 16-bit style introduction to the story at the beginning of the game, but after that point onwards, it’s mostly down to NPC’s guiding you the way throughout the game via narrative text.
The idea of the game is to navigate your hero through stages, letting your hero walk autonomously whilst you scout around the map trying to find a path piece for your character to next step on, paving way (so to speak) the direction you want him to go. There are monsters, chests and other interactive objects scattered across the land, all of which will aid you on your journey. Monsters will drop jewels and help you to level up through experience points. Chests may contain a mixture of jewels and items, whereas certain objects such as boulders or lakes – you can bash A on them to deplete them of their jewels. The painstakingly-slow process then ensues of creating a path for your hero to collect these items or fight these monsters. It would be more tolerable if you were able to speed up your hero. The hero does have the option of picking a trusty dog to help him/ her gather these jewels, but it hardly seems worth it as the dog is just as slow, if not slower, in gathering them for you.
Of course, this wouldn’t be an RPG without the relative traits such as player progression, increase in stats and not forgetting gigantic bosses that make you want to pull your hair out. Add to that an increase in personal frustration whilst you’re scrambling about for pieces to find in order to attack and evade the monsters. It gets extremely repetitive when you die and have to start from the beginning. Again, it wouldn’t be so bad if there was a way to increase and decrease your hero speed when moving along the tiles.
The controls seem simple enough, but when it comes down to the later levels, twitchy fingers and thumbs will come into play as you’re scrambling around trying to find the correct path for your hero whilst at the same time, making sure your hero is going in the right direction. The idea seems interesting enough but the mix of RPG and this type of puzzler doesn’t quite seem to fit. Either that, or it is executed poorly. Either way, this isn’t a great example of chucking in RPG with a particular puzzler, and I’m a huge fan of both.
Swapquest is available to download digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £7.99.
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An interesting concept which is executed poorly that causes more frustration than it’s actually worth. Retro-style graphics but an extremely slow grind amplified by the pace of the hero’s speed.