11/13/2012 - Superbrothers: Sword and Scorcery EP

Superbrothers is the long-awaited PC port of a quirky iOS title released late last year. Taking the role of a lone wanderer of sorts, you attempt to save a realm from destruction. It's a traditional videogame premise, one done to death, so it's easy to wonder why, exactly, Superbrothers needs to exist.

Upon closer examination, however, Superbrothers reveals itself to be a send-up of the traditional adventure genre. The game maintains a tone that is firmly tongue-in-cheek and rewards best the player who approaches the entire experience as a self-aware joke. As a joke, in fact, it works very well. The humor is subtle, but resonates throughout the game, playing to gaming tropes as though its success depended on it. Screenshot 1 As a game, Superbrothers falters a bit. While initially fun, the puzzle-based gameplay wears thin quickly. If this game was longer than 4 hours, I'm not sure I'd be able to recommend it. But Superbrothers is short, which serves to its benefit. Puzzles never really evolve in terms of complexity, but the game's length prevents things from becoming boring. More interesting are the combat scenarios. Rather than present itself as a bloody, senseless, "kill something every five minutes"-o-rama, Superbrothers opts for sparse but memorable combat, very rythmic in terms of gameplay. This ties into its most interesting aspect: audiovisual presentation.

superbrothers screenshot 2
The combat screen is very minimalistic. Somehow, it works.

The soundtrack for Superbrothers was designed by a progressive rock musician named Jim Guthrie. The game, in fact, is the developers' interpretation of his music, the result of a cross-media collaboration. They nailed this aspect of the game. The music and primitive-but-artistic visuals perfectly capture the feel of each other.

Superbrothers' greatest achievement, then, is as an art project. But that doesn't mean it's not a joy to play through, if only to witness one of the more creative ideas to be found in recent memory.