The Swapper is an ingenious little puzzle game with a unique gameplay mechanic and eerie plotline that blend together very well.
The puzzles all center around a cloning mechanic, where the device the player wields is able project up to 4 clones and also transfer consciousness of the player between them. Certain light wavelengths interfere with the device to add to puzzle complexity (for example, red light blocks transferring the mind of the player to a clone). The puzzles range from obvious to abstract, with the simplest puzzles at the start of the game. However, later puzzles vary massively in how difficult they are (depending on the player). Some puzzles may seem obvious to one individual, but will require a lot of trial & error for other players. There was one puzzle in particular that had me stumped for a long time, but upon completing it I realised it was actually quite simple and that many players would probably breeze past it quickly.
TS starts with the player finding themself on a seemingly abandoned space station and very slowly introduces a plot which the player can entirely ignore if they see fit. The narrative is interwoven in the game through a few small scenes voiced by a mysterious other astronaut, some terminals with logs to read, and through messages conveyed to the player by rock samples scattered around the station. Quite like Dark Souls, it is up to the player to investigate the story and piece it together, and you are rewarding with a rather intriguing one if you bother.
The creepy atmosphere of this game is realised through some quite clever visual and audio tricks. The graphics alone are not very impressive, but the way lighting is used cleverly hides the imperfections and creates a very unique art-style which I adored. The soundtrack comes and goes but always leaves you feeling isolated and alone. Whenever the silence was punctured by speech of the other astronaut, I found I immediately stopped whatever I was doing to lap up all of the audio I could just to find a little solace in the company of someone other than the empty clones. It is the interplay between the art-style, the audio, and the clone mechanic that makes the atmosphere of this game so incredible.
If all this wasn't enough, I thought the one single choice you have to make in the entire game was probably one of the most poignant moments in any game I have played. It was incredibly difficult to make and left me with a real lasting impression and that feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me wonder whether the decision was the right one or not.
Be warned: this game is meant to be played through in big chunks, shown by an ending that has so much impact if you have been following the plot and really immersing yourself. If you play this game in small portions then the atmosphere, plot and impact will probably not hit as hard.
Strap-up, blast off, and lose your sanity amongst the talking rubble and deathly-silent human clones.