The Swapper

From the store page and general atmosphere, I was worried the dice had given me yet another Metroidvania in quick succession. Thankfully, that’s not really the case.

Rather than being an exploration/puzzle solving hybrid, The Swapper is instead both of those things but strictly one at a time. Our protagonist, Mr. T Swapper, can create disposable clones of himself with wanton disregard of any ethical quandary such an act might inspire. These clones mimic his movements precisely (…mostly), allowing access to places otherwise out of reach. Provided there is line-of-sight, he can also swap consciousnesses with the clones at any time, allowing for some pretty neat chain-traversal puzzles.

Each puzzle room is entirely self-contained, but you have to find them first. The exploration is easily the weak point, here, much the same as it was with Stealth Inc– it kinda feels like a chore to wander the derelict space station when the puzzles are so neatly packed, many of them taking up a single screen and putting the space to full use.

Still, the exploration phase does ask for some jammy tricks, such as creating a vast and utterly inhumane ladder of other selves to climb, each body falling inevitably to its death as you swap higher and higher. …Probably best not to think about it.

Fin or Bin:

The exploration was what killed Stealth Inc for me in the end, but The Swapper hasn’t reached that level yet. The controls are very slippery and sometimes you’ll get caught on a little piece of geometry that will displace one of your clones, undoing a whole chain reaction. There’s lots of potential reasons to Bin this one, and I did worry a few times during my hour that I wasn’t going to have the patience for it. The puzzle rooms themselves are just too good, though, tightly packed and smartly designed, with that glorious “a-ha!” moment never too far away. A Fin, then, on the power of that alone. Tentative, but I want to see what other atrocities the game will ask of me in search of solutions.



You never see people using 1337 any more, you know?

There’s gonna be mild spoilers in here ‘cos there’s something I have to talk about, so if you were already interested in HackNet (you should be!), skip the bolded sections.

HackNet purports to be a realistic hacking experience, and while I can’t speak to how true that is, it certainly feels authentic. It’s not your typical movie-syle vivid green text cascades and literal visual representations of firewalls- the entire game can be played through the command line (though it has some clickable shortcuts if you’re a script kiddie loser scrub).

Renowned hacker Bit has gone missing, presumed dead, and his failsafe system sends out a pre-written email… to your address. Contained within are some simple instructions and tutorials, and the first breadcrumbs to begin the search to find out what the heck happened to him.

Gameplay loop boils down to breaking through the security systems of a target PC, finding the files you’re looking for, deleting or making a copy of them, and then removing all trace of your presence. It was getting a little bit samey, but then…


…I got counter-hacked, and they deleted my OS, resulting in the BSOD seen above. The game reboots, but all of the GUI interface is gone. The music is gone. Sound effects, colours- everything is gone, reduced to nothing but a command line. And then, with no help, I had to put my OS back together, manually using the command line to hack a computer on the same network and download their version of it… which then looked and sounded completely different to the one I had been using. It was chilling, and very exciting to watch unfold.


Fin or Bin:

Knowing now what kind of loops HackNet is going to throw at me, I can’t wait to see what else it does further down the line. Games that play with the fourth wall in such a clever way are like chicken soup for my decades-jaded self. Yeah, we’re Finishing this one.

(Steam, also available in the Humble Trove)


I considered writing this post entirely in emojis, to imitate Ellipsis’ complete lack of text.

This is one of those games that people look at and immediately think “Beebs wants to play this”. Simple-as-it-gets gameplay, levels that are finished in seconds, and a high skill threshold coupled with a blisteringly-fast turnaround so you’re never kept waiting for Just One More Try.

As mentioned, there’s no text in the game, with everything learned on the fly. New elements get introduced every few levels right up until the end, and it rarely takes more than two or three encounters to figure out what’s up. Blue good, red bad. Triangles bad. Lasers bad. Bombs bad (unless they’re blue!). And so on.

I actually managed to finish it within the hour of play, to my own definition of ‘finished’. Each level has a Star ranking for people who like to go back and perfect their play- that’s not my scene, and thankfully Ellipsis doesn’t require it.

Fin or Bin:

Tumblr doesn’t support emojis. Fin!