Swapquest isn’t at all what I expected it to be. Originally thinking it was a spelling-puzzle game mixture, I quickly found out that the name isn’t to be trusted. The game’s title can be slightly deceiving, but it is a very good puzzle game with RPG tones to add some flavor here and there.
Swapquest takes place in an ancient kingdom, where you are the son or daughter of the Royal family. Your ancestors have fought off an ancient evil, the Horde, and sealed it away within a sword relic. However, after many years, the relic has now broken into 12 different shards, and you are tasked with collecting them and defeating that ancient evil once more.
As you venture across the lands searching for shards, you will fight enemies and the environment. Swapquest is a side-scroller – the game progresses in a single direction, and you must keep pace with that. As the screen scrolls, you encounter those enemies and fight them for various jewels and health. Where the puzzle aspect comes in is this: the level is divided into tiles, each with its own determined path. You have to make those tiles connect so you can continue on, not fall behind the level’s pace, collect treasure, and defeat enemies.
Now, the RPG elements come into play at the very beginning. You choose your class, each with different benefits and stats, and begin the journey. As you earn those jewels and treasure, you can buy new gear and level up abilities that you have to make your character better. You also level up your character by defeating enemies found during the level, so it’s important not to ignore them and head straight for treasure.
The RPG system may seem minimal, and at times it can be, but the coolest thing I found during it was the way it leveled up and fused classes together. As I played and gained those higher levels, my class would switch, meaning I kept all my abilities and stats from the one I had chosen, but I gained an ability from the class I evolved into, allowing me to choose the exact ability I wanted and thought would be more beneficial to me.
What I most enjoyed from Swapquest was its bosses. Each is cleverly designed and uniquely challenging. There is a specific method to battling and defeating each – you can’t just rush in and whack the boss, especially since most are immune to that in the beginning. Puzzle games should be challenging and the bosses prove that this one is, while still being fun. I enjoyed figuring out what was given to me and how I must accomplish it. I will give a few words of advice: remember that you can use the touchscreen for everything in Swapquest, even during boss battles – it’s often important, and your only way of gaining victory.
As far as the game’s aesthetic, it’s hard to describe how I feel about the game. While your character and some of the environments don’t look too amazing, the bosses (enemies, too) and jewels are sharp — really standing out to the eye. Part of this may be due to the game originally being a mobile game, but it wasn’t released too long ago, meaning it should have been developed for hardware of somewhat equal means to the Vita.
The game also has a perfect soundtrack. Each stage has its own track, which really reflects the atmosphere and tone of the level and what’s going on. For example: when I was playing in a desert level, the soundtrack reminded me of an “Indiana Jones” movie as I wondered through the level; It was also one of the coolest designed levels I encountered in the game — it scrolls in every directions, simulating you being lost in the desert.
All in all, Swapquest isn’t a very hard game to wrap your head around, and it isn’t long. I found it tedious having continuously to hunt down the shards, because the game deliberately drags that out when you can go ahead and fight – and defeat! – that final boss. It’s fun and enjoyable, with some great gameplay that I wish other games that use small RPG elements would have implemented.
Simply put, if you look at Swapquest and think, “I think I’d like this,” then you would – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Again, it’s a good experience overall, despite the only challenge being those amazing bosses.