Genre: Action, Arcade, Racing
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox, PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Digital Kingdom | Thunderful
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $19.99 | UK £16.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: December 5th, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Plan of Attack.
2022 is fast approaching its conclusion, although that hasn’t stopped some developers from slipping in at the last minute to provide some much-needed gaming entertainment over the festive season. Now today’s game is not festive; however, it certainly fits the bill of one to play in short quick bursts on the Nintendo Switch. So if you are in charge of cooking, your chances of burning the turkey have been severely diminished.
All bad Christmas cracker jokes aside, Swordship is pretty darn great. A fast racing style game that is certainly better than any Christmas cracker trinket you’ll find this year.
Extreme Delivery Service
Global warming has come in full force, causing the oceans to rise rapidly, and human civilization now lives in underwater cities. Not everyone can afford the luxury of this elite accommodation, and the poorer folk known as ‘the banished’ are cast out to what’s left of Earth’s desolate wastelands.
But not all hope is lost. As the pilot of a futuristic speedboat-style vehicle, it’s your job to intercept deliveries from the rich folk and get the resources to the people that need them. However, the oceans are no longer those peaceful views you once had on your office wall with some inspirational slogan like ‘Destiny.’ Now they are littered with robots that really just want to blow your little boat out of the water. The text briefly describes this story when you boot the game up.
Between levels, there are also these quick news reels of what’s happening in the world, as well as a weather report for each of the levels you played, a feature which made me chuckle. It’s all brief, sets the scene and if you don’t care, it doesn’t interfere with the gameplay. The main focus is on the arcade-style action.
Dodge and Dive
Swordship drops you pretty quickly into the deep end of its gameplay. Controls and mechanics are introduced with on-screen prompts. These go by just a little too quickly, and I accidentally skipped through one. The controls are smooth and easy to use. The screen is constantly scrolling like an endless runner, so you just need to move and use a dodge to dive underwater to avoid enemy attacks. Not too long into the game, you will also get the chance to unlock moves that can be charged up, like an electrical stun, to temporarily pause enemies in their place.
Many nasty robots want to do nothing more than stop your delivery. Your weapon of choice to defend yourself is actually manipulating the robots to destroy each other. When a robot appears, you will notice a pattern to their attacks, like a laser sight or area of effect to pre-warn you where they will strike. If you’re quick enough, you can move into a position which lines up with another robot and then dodge out of the way so they destroy each other. Pulling this off is incredibly satisfying. It’s also the quickest way to increase your score. Its high-speed arcade gameplay, at its best, quickly becomes quite addictive when it clicks. It’s always a good sign of a game when I instantly want to start another run after failing miserably.
By scoring high enough, you will unlock more content between runs. It’s here I had a little niggle with the game. Usually, in these types of games, your experience will carry over per round. In Swordship if you don’t achieve a minimum score, the experience bar will simply reset to zero. This means it can take many failed attempts before you see any new content like new ship unlocks or items to discover in the game. This may lead to some players dropping out early if the gameplay doesn’t suit them.
The goal of Swordship is to race across the dangerous waters collecting cargo and successfully delivering them at designated points. Levels are randomly generated with enemies and delivery points spawning in varied spots. You need to intercept a certain number of cargo lines to complete the level, but delivering the cargo is not essential but carries benefits. The more cargo crates you deliver, the more rewards you could receive on completion.
When the level is over, any cargo crates you acquire can be kept or exchanged for points. Picking raw points which will help you reach a higher score and unlock more general content in the game. Alternatively, you can pick extra lives that will help you survive a little longer. These crates will also unlock a new move, possibly improving your chances of survival. But they also add extra spice to the gameplay while allowing you to mix up your tactics. The more crates you keep, the more upgrades you can choose, but only one can be carried forward for the rest of the run.
Surfing Super Smooth
Graphics are of a simple design. Your bright yellow ship has a low poly feel that feels reminiscent of the Wipeout series back on the PlayStation. The design feels simple but effective; robot baddies have a unique look and feel, making it easy to identify how they will attack. The water effects also give a high-octane sense of speed. What makes the presentation stand out the most is just how well it runs in TV and handheld mode.
The game maintains a solid performance and frame rate even when things get chaotic. There are also these satisfying cinematic movements where the camera angle will briefly change to home in on some of the epic explosions. Accompanying all this is an engaging soundtrack that really adds to the tension of the action on display.
Conclusion – Successful Delivery
Swordship is fast-dodging fun on the Nintendo Switch. Speeding in at the last moment, this might just be one of the most original roguelikes I have played this year. With so many games in the genre focusing on platforming and action, the racing mechanics really deliver a fresh injection to the formula. The fast pace may be a bit much for gamers with slow or anxious reflexes. Unlocking content can be a bit of a drag in places.
Regardless, this is an ideal pick for gamers with little time on their hands or who just want some fast arcade fun. Don’t let this speed you by.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot