SWAG & SORCERY
Chop to victory.


REVIEW
By JAY TEE
14/05/19

You literally control everything with the mouse. Coupled with a clean interface, and excellent tutorial, it’s very easy to jump in.

The music is surprisingly good, as typically games with this kind of visual aesthetic tend to embrace a cliché ‘retro’ synth soundtrack.  

The download size is tiny, and everything runs very smoothly. There’s a lot of grind, but that’s also kind of the point.  

Your feelings on the pixel art will be determined before you play. But the bright colour palette and character design are appealing.

THE LAST WORD

Swag & Sorcery is a fun RPG adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

THE FINAL SCORE

3/5

REVIEW POLICY

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

3 out of 5 is GOOD.

Something with this rating is absolutely worth checking out, but it’s flawed with a couple of mis-steps.

*Reviewed on PC, with a copy provided by tinyBuild*


The EMILIO ESTEVEZ badge is for a game with random and / or procedurally generated content.

The TUVOK’S EARS badge is for a game with gameplay mechanics that are clearly communicated to the player.

The BARREL OF LAUGHS badge is for when a game boasts a keen, sharp wit and several laugh out loud moments.

The DISNEY PIXAR badge is for a game with a unique and / or interesting graphical style.

The FULL IMPULSE badge is for a game that is short, but still a great experience.

The LEDGE BUCKET badge is for a game where the U.I and / or menus have been really well designed.

The STRAIGHT AND STEADY badge is for a game that comes out the gate in a good state.

IS IT FUN?

*Yes, but you have to embrace the grind.*

You’ll spend most of your time in Swag & Sorcery gathering supplies for upgrades or better gear, which might require you to craft different elements from various basic materials. This is essentially the entire game, and while the humour definitely keeps things moving, the grind loop is something that could potentially put off players looking for a more immediate experience. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of slowly amassing quantities of stuff in order to make new things. Resource gathering feels too much like actual work, and my personal bias definitely leans away from this. However, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that tinyBuild have done a marvellous job of making the interface really simple to navigate. It’s one of the few ‘resource gathering’ games that dodges the pitfalls of unnecessary over complication. They deserve kudos for this. It certainly held my interest as a result.

Swag & Sorcery endears itself to you within minutes. The Banjo-Kazooie style ‘gibberish’ speak that compliments the fully voice acted narration. The self aware mission objectives that comment on their own absurdity. This is a game that (mercifully) doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is all the better for it. You’ll quickly grasp the basic mechanics, thanks to an exceptionally well made tutorial that features optional secondary quests. New ideas are introduced regularly, and help add depth to what is essentially quite a basic premise: you send characters out on hunter / gather type missions, in order to gather resources, improve your settlement, and level up their attributes. There’s a random element to every excursion, with different enemy types (some of which have enhanced abilities) and materials popping up to keep things fresh.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS?

*Yes, but you could also play this in the background on a second screen.*

I had several laugh out loud reactions to the games sense of humour. The writing is deliberately self aware, and a wonderful antidote to the stuffiness that can often go hand in hand with titles like this. It doesn’t take long for you to be left to your own devices, and although several voice acted cutscenes are welcome inclusions, you could also very easily play this game without giving it your full attention. Once your settlement is established, and you’re able to focus on resource gathering, you can queue up your squad, send them out into the wild, and leave them to it. Of course, that could be a totally deliberate development choice. But as someone who isn’t particularly capable of multi-tasking, and enjoys being able to give things my full attention, this feels at odds with how I traditionally play games. At times, it can feel more like a mobile game. Not necessarily a bad thing! But certainly different.

“And, please, save your questions for later” made me burst. There’s plenty of really great dialogue here.

ANNOYING STUFF?

*Yes, but I’m sort of nit picking here.*  

There’s a couple of design choices that either didn’t work for me or broke the flow of the game. For instance, you have to drag and drop one of your characters into a particular building, in order for that building to produce resources. When you’re trying to maximise the time your crew is sent out on quests to gather stuff, this seems like an unnecessary stumbling block that slows things down. Characters also slowly regenerate health, and you can retreat from a battle at any time, but you’re also able to spend extra Gold and heal them faster. In principle there’s nothing wrong here, but for me it removed the stakes and tension from each run. Knowing that you can just back out at any time, and throw in game currency at your character to heal them up, eliminated the feeling that you’re taking a risk when venturing out into the world.

NEXT STEPS?

*More customisation options, and maybe multiplayer?*

Our ‘next steps’ section isn’t necessarily suited for all games, and can often be a more theoretical look at what a game could become, even if it’s not designed for any significant ongoing DLC or support (outside of patches, bug fixing etc…). While I don’t think Swag & Sorcery necessarily needs multiplayer, I couldn’t help wishing that I was able to share all the moments of silliness and tongue in cheek humour with a friend. Being able to visit a buddies settlement, with your own set of characters, and embark on quests together could be a lot of fun. I’d also love to see expanded options to customise your town, since building placement is preset and you don’t have much control over what goes where. There’s definitely room to expand here. The IP has a great name, and a consistent tone, both of which lend themselves well to future updates, or even a sequel.

THE BASICS - Pixel art RPG adventure, from the folks behind Graveyard Keeper.

PLATFORMS - PC

MAX PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 0

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - None.  

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - None announced.

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

One of my favourite game names of all time.

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