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Greg Rice

DF Game Club: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

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The way the game is broken up into sessions might be an interesting feature to consider for DFA, though like I said in the chat I think including the option to continue instead of kicking the player back to the main menu might be nice - even idling at the intermission screen so I can go make a cup of tea or something. Being forced back to the main menu is a little jarring for the desktop experience. That being said, being given the boot wasn't quite as bad in the iOS versions since playing the game on a phone or tablet is a totally different experience than playing on a desktop machine.

I've seen someone describe the iOS version of S&S as the 'definitive' version, and I can see what it means. The desktop version is definitively functional, and since I don't have an iThing I'm glad to have some way to play it, but it's very obvious that it was made with touch controls in mind and they weren't willing to hurt the experience any more than they had to by changing it to the mouse.

Still a great game, one of my favourites this year. I already played so I won't be joining the club, though.

This reminds me that there should be a full moon tomorrow.

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I started playing before the Game Club and went well ahead too (into the third session), so I'll spoil a lot of things from now on! Better skip this post if you haven't come this far!

...anyway, session 3 is weird, since it's not intended to be played as one session. Actually you're intended to wait a few days for the lunar cycle to progress so that it has effects in-game. You can change your computer clock of course, but then you're a cheater. And you can access a secret room to change the lunar cycle, but you have to start out on a black moon, which I didn't, so this option didn't exist for me. Kinda pointless!

I dunno, I don't think this game is any fun. It's light on gameplay, but actually I got stuck quite a lot already. It may be because the gestures don't translate that well to PC, but at other times the game is just obtuse. And then there's constant backtracking required. And the Sworcery song requires for you to poke at everything on the screen and see what happens. Sometimes you have to click, sometimes you have to swipe, but you don't really know what to do before you do it. I dunno, didn't do much for me.

It's a good-looking, good-sounding experience. But it's not good gaming, I say.

It's interesting how few adventure games I seem to like. Just finished The Pandora Directive yesterday and I wasn't impressed in terms of the gameplay. A sliding puzzle (a harmless variation though) and two mazes aren't much fun imo. And the damn puzzle boxes were damn busywork. Well, at least I like some adventure games...

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I think the session pauses are more needed by this game than they are a good idea in general for the genre -- they diffuse a lot of the fatiguing aspects of this game, which makes it clever that they put them in.. But I think they're sort of treating a symptom of that lack of a truly engaging story/plot..

The thing about the session pauses is that you don't want to have them in any game where you want the gameplay to get particularly intricate, or where you want people to be really engrossed and immersed in the story. That's why I didn't like the somewhat similar episode structure of Alan Wake - just as you were building up steam and the tension was ramping up, all of that would be diffused by an "end of episode" bit.

For a small curio intended to illustrate someone's music it's alright, but for a full-blown adventure which I didn't get as part of a very reasonably priced Humble Bundle it'd seem rather lightweight to me.

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so the full moon is the on the 4th right? We should play then right?

btw, this game is awesome. the controls didnt translate perfectly to kb+m but i welcome this breath of fresh air, very creative.

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I just played the first section. Initial impressions: It's beautiful, and original. Some of the interface decisions seemed to detract from the experience a little. So much double-clicking seems unnecessary, and the delay when you're trying to double-click and hold to move around makes it feel a bit clunkier and less responsive than it could be. Not sure I like that it decides when I have a break and boots me back to the menu. I recognize the point but a game can be deliberately paced\structured for a purpose without dictating to the player quite so much. I'd prefer more exploration, less linearity, but it seems this just isn't that kind of game (yet, at the very least). I have enjoyed the experience so far and I'll certainly play through the rest. I don't think it makes a good blueprint for 'the future of adventure games', but I don't think it's trying to either. As a unique experience it's tasty so far.

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Something said in the chat that I wanted to put in this post as well:

The coolest thing about this game for me is how it's both new- and old-school at the same time. The juxtaposition of the graphics to the music.

I can remember when graphics that pixelated would have been perfectly acceptable. At the time, it would even have been amazing the amount of effort that went into them to make the whole thing look 'real'.* BUT, at the time the music would have been nowhere near as sophisticated.

The same is true, to an extent, with the anachronistic dialogue. I like the idea of their playing with our expectations that way.

*These days, I'm sure you can start with a piece of art and work backwards using some sort of rendering tool, so it's more of a stylistic decision than an enormous chore...

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Things that stood out to me in Session I included: the music, the art style, the unorthodox interactivity, and the mystery of the environment. I'm intrigued that there is no real context for why the protagonist is looking for this book. While playing, I got the feeling that this would turn out to be something like Shadow of the Colossus. I'm sure others have touched upon the music and the controls, so I will say that I was really impressed by how little is told to the player. Locked doors, no answers to our questions, all of this gave me a the sense that the game will begin to unfold more and more in the subsequent sessions.

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It does have a Shadow of the Colossus vibe going on, actually - it's got the same thing where the protagonist is following an agenda which looks more and more dubious and poorly thought-out as the game progresses but, in the absence of anything else to do, you keep pushing them forward to the inevitable car crash. I'd be interested to see if they keep that up for the next sessions.

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Hey guys, I won't be able to stream tomorrow, but I will play the 2nd session and post in here. Looking forward to it!

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The game is intriguing enough to keep me interested, but the puzzles are really, really trial-and-error. I'm not sure if some of the hints and signposting might have been removed from the PC version, but there's pretty much almost nothing there to point you in the right direction. The sheep puzzle in particular I solved completely on accident and only found out after it was solved what I was supposed to do.

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Yeah, same here - the sheep thing with the pairs is way too trial and error.

The one with the bird statues is even worse. I started by activating their eyes. Then when I clicked on their eyes again the entire screen shook and I got the "you screwed up" sound. Aha, clearly a sign I wasn't meant to click on them again after activating their eyes. Nope - turns out I had to click-drag them... but it took me forever to work that one out.

I particularly despise the Trigon fight because a) there's a pongalike bit in there (and despite rumours to the contrary you can't reliably defend yourself simply by spamming your sword in it - the faster red projectile demands more finesse) and the fight takes place at possibly the worst possible angle you could have for a pongalike minigame, and b) - and this is the ABSOLUTE WORST sin of the game - it changes the way your shield works. Previously if I tapped the shield button the Scythian raised the shield then dropped it - now suddenly it becomes a skip-to-the-side button. So earlier, when I was holding up the shield to deflect the beam, it zapped me, and I couldn't work out what I was meant to do, because obviously simply clicking on your shield would just make you raise the shield and the game had already demonstrated that the beam would go directly through the shield.

Gah! And I've also learned some enraging things about not being allowed to finish the game unless you play it at the right phase of the moon. Don't try to dictate my schedule, Superjerks.

Whew. Deep breath.

As with Syd I think there's cues that are missing from the PC version. In fact, the PC controls in general bugged me more this week. It's like the game actively resents being ported to PC. Along with the display problem I had with my Windows scaling - a problem which every other program and game I have ever encountered doesn't have because they understand how to adapt to Windows scaling - it does make me angry. Why even bother doing a PC patch if you're not going to make the slightest concession to the different medium?

Oh, of course, I know why: $$$$$.

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Yeah, I stopped playing on the third session because I just couldn't be bothered anymore. At least the soundtrack is great! Love to listen to it...

It's weird that the game mentions that if you need help you should read the tome yet the tome is never of any help at all!

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Music of the game is great but the gameplay leaves me wondering why they bothered making it a game. It's interesting as a game but it just turned me off at some point during the second session.

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I didn't even notice the music this time around because I was struggling too much with the puzzles and interface so yeah, it's kind of failing me at this point as an interactive album as well as a game. At least with a normal album I don't have to struggle to get to the next song and I can play the tracks whenever I like.

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While I definitely agree with a lot of the criticism that people have brought up here, I've found that these issues haven't diminished my enjoyment of the game. I think they could have done a bit better with the mouse controls, but the nature of the puzzles hasn't bothered me so far. Any time a puzzle felt too obscure I had to remind myself that it was originally designed for a touch device, and when thought about from that perspective the solution usually became more obvious. Even the trial and error puzzles (which I usually hate) didn't bother me too much because I can imagine that they would be more enjoyable with a touch screen. It's a shame these things weren't adapted to feel more native to the PC, but honestly I'm just happy they made the port at all. I've wanted to play this game since it was released, and for a long time it didn't look like they were going to port it to non-iOS devices.

So far I'm really loving the atmosphere, visual style, and soundtrack. And the gameplay's fine when you get used to it. Will definitely keep playing.

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And the gameplay's fine when you get used to it.

Uuuh, I'm really not sure about the whole "getting used to it" angle. I mean, by that logic I should be less frustrated by the controls in the second session more than the first because I'd become familiarised with the controls and that really doesn't jibe with my experience.

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Uuuh, I'm really not sure about the whole "getting used to it" angle. I mean, by that logic I should be less frustrated by the controls in the second session more than the first because I'd become familiarised with the controls and that really doesn't jibe with my experience.

I can't really speak for anyone else's experience, but I struggled with the controls in the first session, but was fine with them by the end of the second. I could see how people could just flat out not enjoy the controls, and it wouldn't be an issue of familiarity. Of course you can make your own judgments about that.

A few people expressed frustration with the walking and screen panning commands overlapping somewhat, and that's the part that took the most getting used to for me. To walk around you have to click and hold the mouse button while keeping the mouse still until the ring of little white lines appears, then you can move the cursor as needed. It's definitely a weird setup, and I would've preferred them splitting up the camera control and walking between the two mouse buttons, but I guess they needed the right mouse button for entering your combat stance. You can bypass this control awkwardness by just double clicking on places or objects where you want to move (this becomes easier when you zoom out using the mouse wheel).

Hope that helps a few of you out. At the end of the day, this isn't going to be a title that everyone likes. Personally I'm enjoying it a great deal so far, but your mileage may vary.

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Uuuh, I'm really not sure about the whole "getting used to it" angle. I mean, by that logic I should be less frustrated by the controls in the second session more than the first because I'd become familiarised with the controls and that really doesn't jibe with my experience.

I can't really speak for anyone else's experience, but I struggled with the controls in the first session, but was fine with them by the end of the second. I could see how people could just flat out not enjoy the controls, and it wouldn't be an issue of familiarity. Of course you can make your own judgments about that.

A few people expressed frustration with the walking and screen panning commands overlapping somewhat, and that's the part that took the most getting used to for me.

(...)

But you know, walking is just a detail. Sure, you do it a lot but probably nothing wrong will happen if you walk instead of move the screen from time to time. It might be annoying but that's all. Maybe that system is not perfect but you were taught how it works so you can't really criticise that.

The real problem is when the game becomes unfair, like for example with the shield as Arthur pointed earlier.

During the first fight you are being told that the shield blocks the blows. Great, this is what you expect from a shield.

Suddenly in the next session this rule is changed: blocking becomes useless. When the first pong set started my first reaction was to hide behind the shield. I bet you did the same. This is what we expected basing on the previous fights. Now the shield is not blocking anything, it is used to dodge. How do you learn that? By a quick time event that you will most probably fail because you just learned to forget about the shield which is clearly not working anymore. That is cheating.

After loosing the fight you are told another new thing - holding your shield up regenerates your health. You don't know that before you get beaten.

Why these three ways the shield works were not presented from the beginning? Why teach us one thing if it will not work later? Fine, I can accept you need mystical powers of the megatome in order to heal yourself, but is there any reason you couldn't dodge before?

Good design is to make clever rules, present it to the player and then to use them. Breaking the rules occasionally is fine, it can cause strong psychological effects like for example confusion, but you mustn't do it all the time. Getting used to that will not solve anything here.

I'm afraid the same accusation can be made against most of the trial and error puzzles in this game: either we were not told what are the rules or the rules we knew were suddenly broken. Since we couldn't base on any previous experiences we had to click everywhere and hope for the best.

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I was digging the game in the first chapter despite the awful controls and lack of any fine gameplay, because I liked the atmosphere and it genuinely felt quite foreboding at the end. I was impressed they had made so many fairly empty areas for us to traverse in order to give it a sort of epic feel, not realizing we were going to be coming back to those sparse areas over and over. It seems like they shot their wad in that intro, because the game really lost momentum for me after that. I think that if the game had opened up then and suddenly there were a lot more things to do in these previously empty environments, it would have been a lot more fun. As it is, I don't see the appeal.

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But you know, walking is just a detail. Sure, you do it a lot but probably nothing wrong will happen if you walk instead of move the screen from time to time. It might be annoying but that's all. Maybe that system is not perfect but you were taught how it works so you can't really criticise that.

Oh, but I think you can criticise it. Even if it is a small annoyance, it's a small annoyance which comes up over and over and over again because you do kind of do a lot of walking in this game, and being presented with that constant low-level background annoyance throughout the experience of playing is not going to put you in the best state of mind to enjoy the game. And this is just for walking around, something which other games are able to let you do without a trace of annoyance. On that basis, "why can't you guys find a way to make walking not annoying on PC?" is most definitely a valid criticism. Yes, the system is consistently applied, but it's a frustrating and finicky system which keeps getting in the damn way.

Though I 100% agree that being presented with a rule and then being jerked about with the rule suddenly changing on you without warning is much worse.

Honestly, at this point I'm not even sure that I'll bother with the third session. If this "you have to play it at particular times of the month or you can't get an ending" thing is true then I'll almost certainly quit at that point. If you're going to try and dictate my schedule to me or make me go and fiddle with my computer's calendar you've got to make me so engrossed in your game that it's worth the hassle of doing that, and right now SS&S just feels like a big, fat, boring chore to me.

EDIT: And note, this is from someone who was rather enthusiastic about the game after the first session, as you'll see from my posts on the last page. The sudden nose dive in my level of interest in this game is... well, I can think of few other games I have lost enthusiasm for so quickly.

I dunno whether this is really my place to suggest this, seeing how the game club is Greg's show and all, but I'd really like to call a vote on whether we keep pushing on with this one or not. This one seems to have set a lot of noses out of joint, including mine, but I don't know whether we grousers are a vocal minority or what. Either way it's got me feeling pretty mutinous.

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Hey all. I just finished up Sword & Sworcery and I thought I'd put in my two cents.

I've gotta say, I was pretty much blown away by the art style. I think many people are like me in that they have a soft spot for pixellated art, so I was inclined to appreciate it anyways. However, the epic scale of their rooms totally took me by surprise. They really played off of my expectations of what pixels could do, and that gave me a sense of wonder as I played. It's a jolting, compelling contrast to have details muddled in some cases by the huge pixels but then to have such an enormous variety of colors and objects in the world. Oh, and then they used smoother animations selectively, which I thought was just great. So mega points for atmosphere and immersion.

So the walking didn't usually bother me; but it was annoying at times when I wanted to walk the game would scroll the level instead. Separating the walk and scroll buttons would have definitely been helpful. It's a bummer that this small hangup is a deal breaker to some people, though.

As to the shield issue, I think it just comes from their philosophy concerning the gameplay. I think they wanted to created a game in which you would learn mostly by exploration, observation, subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) hints, and a little bit of trial and error. I personally found the Trigon fight fun, even though I was learning things as I went. The biggest frustration for me about the Trigon was not that I had to play the first one more than once, but that there was such a slow intro once you started the fight. It's slow ascent to synthy music was not at all compelling to me.

I guess that covers my strongest feelings about it. I wow-ed harder at later points in the game than I have in almost any other videogame. It is SO worth sticking it out. Like the guy in the suit says, S&S is best experienced with a curious, exploratory approach.

Below is a very small HINT about the moon phases for those who are frustrated. If you don't want to read the HINT, read no further.

You don't have to play at certain times of the month. And you don't have to change your computer schedule. But you do have the option to go about the game that way.

Cheers!

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OK, I just finished session II.

Not much to say other then just repeating what others in the thread have already mentioned. I was highly intrigued by the game after playing session I, and despite the annoyance of how walking around is handled, it seemed like a nifty change of pace.

There was only one spot in the first session that tripped me up. When you fight the statue on the way out after awakening that black demon thing, I happened to walk back in after the fight, rather then towards the exit. Upon correcting this and heading back out again, the statue came to life *again*, and I had to go though the fight once more.

This put me in the state of mind that simply defeating the statue in battle wasn't enough, and I had to do something else with the demon to keep it from possessing the statue in the first place. I then headed back in and proceeded to wander around the ruins for a good 15 or 20 minutes trying to figure out what I was missing. After coming up empty, I decided to try heading out again (causing the statue to come to life for a third time), and this time after the fight I indeed was able to just walk out. So that kind of put a damper on things, but hey, that one was kind of my own fault.

So the next day I start up session II, and here's where all the complaints that other people have been making rear their heads. After awakening the first sprite, it took me a couple days (playing the game for maybe an hour each day) before I figured out how to awaken the next two, which I ended up stumbling into the solutions for without really knowing what I was doing. Then came the key part, which almost went too far in the other direction, being laughably easy to find the key and get back to the real world.

Then the next two sprites. I got the rainbow one fairly quickly, but got nowhere trying to figure out how to awaken the forest one. The hint seemed to indicate the method for scrolling the screen around, so I figured that there might be items all over the place to interact with, but I couldn't find anything. I finally gave up after 3 or 4 days of this and just checked gamefaqs. The trees were the answer. Really. A background element that had absolutely no indication up to that point that it was anything but just scenery.

So I was pretty pissed off at this point, but hey, at least I got all the sprites now, and the book says to go to the meadow where the sheep were, so off I go. The small puzzle with the sun and the cliff sides stumped me for a bit but wasn't too hard to solve (one of the better puzzles so far, actually, IMO), and then came the fight with that golden triangle.

My GOD, the fight with the triangle. I completely agree with Krzysztof a couple posts up from here. Training you all the way up to this point as to what the sword and shield buttons do, and then suddenly changing all the rules for them? Not cool, superbrothers. Not cool at all. I did finally figure out how to finish the fight (after dying about 4 times), but the whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not even sure I want to continue on with session III at this point. I may just stop here, and fire up some of the other games in that humble bundle, none of which I've played before.

As someone else in the thread said, I've never had a game that so quickly went from looking pretty cool to looking like a complete waste of time. At least the bundle came with the soundtrack, too.

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I guess that covers my strongest feelings about it. I wow-ed harder at later points in the game than I have in almost any other videogame. It is SO worth sticking it out. Like the guy in the suit says, S&S is best experienced with a curious, exploratory approach.

Actually, I found that (and the waffle about set and setting) really kind of pretentious and patronising, as if it were saying that if I don't like the game it's because I was in the wrong mood when I was playing it, rather than because having given it a good honest chance I simply don't like the game.

Suit-guy's bits, in particular, seem almost designed to make me feel lectured-to.

Good to hear that you don't have to play the game on specific days to finish it but with all this other stuff I'm still more likely than not to just pack it in here, get the soundtrack, and just listen to that instead of playing the game.

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Below is a very small HINT about the moon phases for those who are frustrated. If you don't want to read the HINT, read no further.

You don't have to play at certain times of the month. And you don't have to change your computer schedule. But you do have the option to go about the game that way.

Cheers!

Well, I read a walkthrough and it appears that you have to start out on the dark moon for a third option to appear. Am I wrong? I didn't find the third option on the bright moon. So...I guess in this case you have to either wait or cheat.

Or stop playing altogether. :-/

Edit: Nevermind, I got my answer here:

SPOILER!

"[...]you are indeed correct, the boor doesn't make an appearance at all, the only way to get to fight him will be to either wait till the dark moon phase passes or cheat by changing the date on your iPad I guess? as long as you don't finish the dark moon portion thus destroying the great hollow tree then I believe you can fight the boor any time before that (not the first time you enter side B though and collect logfellas key)"

So, it seems like you can't get the key on the bright moon or the dark moon, but you can on all the other days. Uhuh...

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We should be OK since (SPOILER!) we'll be playing a day before the Dark Moon kicks in.

Assuming I can bring myself to play at all, that is. :P

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Not sure if it's just me, but I didn't have much of a problem with the Triangle fight either. Maybe I have a higher than normal tolerance for BS game design? :P

Sure I died twice on that fight, but that isn't unusual for a lot of games. For that matter, unblockable attacks aren't too uncommon either. I agree the game could be a lot more clear and up front about everything (I also didn't know about the health regeneration until after I died), but honestly having to learn and re-assess preconceived notions about mechanics in different situations is part of what makes games... well... games. I'd much rather have to learn through trial and error, or experimentation, than have the game just tell me how to do everything. Maybe that puts me in the minority. The game does give you feedback and information, but it's subtle. That might not be everyone's style.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to keep playing by posting this, just offering a counter perspective for anyone out there who might be reading this thread to decide whether or not to start playing the game. For my money, what little I've seen so far has me invested enough to continue. We're all adults here (well, I guess that might not be true, but it sure seems like we are), so we can all make our own decisions about whether or not it's worth our time.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit douchey... I'm not passing judgement on anyone for not liking the game.

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