Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, a collaboration between Capy, Craig D. Adams, and musician Jim Guthrie, was one of the big talking points at GDC 2010.
Coming to the App Store at some point in the second half of 2010, it's a pixel art adventure game revolving around exploring moody landscapes, with short Punch-Out! style fights thrown in for good measure.
But despite being far off completion, the game picked up the Achievement in Art award at this year's IGF Mobile awards, and it's not hard to see why. The world of our protagonist The Scythian is pure pixel beauty, and looks just as good in motion as it does in screenshots.
Touching the screen in the place where you want The Scythian to move gets the ball rolling. There's always a set path he'll be able to travel down, although there are usually multiple paths to take, each leading off to different surroundings and narrative threads.
Along the way, words will fade into view, giving an indication of how to proceed. It's wonderful how something as simple as the word 'Believe' hovering over water can bring a knowing smile to your face.
Yes: believe you can walk on the water. It's a bit of an Indiana Jones moment.
The structure of the game - the EP part of title - comes as each level has its own music track created by Jim Guthrie, complimenting the atmosphere and providing a dreamworld vibe.
Personally, I really became engrossed in the adventure - the lack of story or explanation allowed my imagination to run away with itself.Bear boxing
Towards the end of the demo, I chased down The Grizzled Boor (actually looking more like a bear), at which point the action changed from horizontal adventuring to vertical battling.
Holding and dragging the bottom left of the screen lets you dodge and shield yourself from attacks, while tapping the right unleashes sword swipes in the direction of the enemy.
Harking back to the simplicity of Punch-Out!, the key is to watch your foe's telltale moves and throw the swings at the appropriate moments. Once you've got him on the ropes, holding will build up a powerful finishing move - although artist Craig Adams teased that killing the beast may not be the only option available.
Get the replay
Indeed, a second playthrough the level led me down an entirely different path, with no battle to speak of. Replay value will play a huge part in the game, with certain random elements - characters, objects - ensuring that you'll want to return to its pixellated world after you've reached the end.
One additional neat touch is that the moon in the game will be synced to the real time lunar cycle. We don't know if this is just a graphical flourish or whether it has deeper gameplay significance.
Either way, there's certainly a lot to look forward to with Sword & Sworcery EP.
Check out the video below for a walkthrough of the GDC demo.
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