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About the Story
I don't like talking. Let's build a fire.
21st Place - 23rd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2017)
The Breakfast Review
At the very least, the minimalist approach produces a stylised effect quite in keeping with the subject matter. Like those painted scenes on ancient Egyptian murals, or mediaeval iconography. It taps into the sense of the mythic.
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Swigian is delightful. The game hits the sweet spot between puzzle adventure and story-driven interactive fiction. It will appeal to those who hark back to the "classic" Infocom days just as much as those with a more "literary" sensibility, and that is a rare feat indeed.
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These Heterogenous Tasks
The things you are actually doing are very simple. Mostly the correct act is obvious, and if not then the narrative voice will quickly remind you. The resulting continuous flow of action is just about right for a dream-like experience.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Swigian has a limited vocabulary, a limited range of expression, at every level: the text level, the story level, the gameplay level. This doesn't sound promising, but in the end it's the key to making this game extraordinary and unique.
Descriptions could not be shorter. Things are named with simple words, but there are almost no adjectives, and no details besides the things that there are. "It is what it is". The character doesn't like to describe things, so he gives them unambiguous names. But, despite this sparse and precise language, there is an amazing degree of ambiguity, because of the lack of details. A name may be enough to understand how to use a thing, but not enough to understand what it is.
The story is also full of fog and ambiguity. The narrator knows what they are and what they need, but they never explain it to the player. Fantastic worlds are generally over-explained, particulary in games, where you need to manipulate them; but in Swigian, the world is wonderfully under-explained. Players don't know what they face, or why they have to do the things they do. The puzzles are simple, but intuitive instead of logical. This heightens the myth-like feeling.
And the limited vocabulary of the text also fits perfectly with a limited parser with very few available options. That is of great help to players not very good at parser, like me.
My only complaint is that I wish it was longer, with more puzzles. I wish I could play a longer game like this.
Swigian is a text-sparse parser game. You are an outdoorsy person of no distinct description (“You look like me” is… suggestive) and… well, let’s start by building a fire.
The player’s only stated motivation is escaping an unnamed group: “them”. I would usually prefer more explanation, but here, in this style, that is enough. You are running from them. That is all I need to know.
Objects are barely described – “That is what it is” – encouraging the player to take the writer at face value. Object manipulation for puzzles is simplified, though most of the usual parser commands have been preserved.
Solving puzzles opens up new areas of the map. While the in-game map actually covers a large area, you only ever spend a short time in each area; often, there is exactly one thing you need to do there. The writing is evocative, but firmly rooted in reality – no metaphor for this, unlike, say, baby tree, another text-sparse parser game.
Overall, a solid game which I enjoyed playing, set firmly in parser’s traditional penchant for object-oriented puzzles.
This game is about being inside a simple, animal-like, childish mind. And so, it all revolves around this premise. The minimalism is not plainly esthetic. Guessing who you are may be simple. Guessing at what it's happening still puzzles me, instead. Very nice at setting... the setting; very low in putting up some fight (the game is ridiculously easy).
As a side note: this game would really love having some old-style, pixelated graphics as room descriptions. I would do those for free. :-)
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