Often, despite the frequency with which various games come across the ethereal wooden surface of my existential TICGN desktop, a title catches my notice while simply scrolling through games on Steam. Sweven was one such game, a simple side scrolling 2-D platformer with “an emotional story and beautiful graphics” according to the product page description. The price of entry ($2.99) made it a virtual (no pun intended?) guarantee that I would buy this and try it out. So, how did it stack up? Let’s find out.
The story in Sweven was pretty basic. It centers on you, a bunny rabbit, who was caged but somehow mysteriously set free trying to find your bunny family. Interspersed throughout is commentary on society and the idea that we are heading for a collapse and reversion to a more primitive state of being. This is actually the main premise of the game, although this is presented through the bunnies eyes as it travels throughout the land on its journey to reunite with its lost family.
I felt the presentation, although spartan, was actually a bit cliche. That said, it was effective with probably less than two hundred words in conveying an idea that other writers would struggle with using thousands of words and full dialogue. However, I also didn’t really feel the “emotional” part of the journey at all. More emphasis was placed on the decay of society than on the bunny and her attempt to find her family despite the gameplay being focused on her journey. However, they did end the story on a hopeful note, which was nice. While the spartan approach made it more accessible, the lack of any real emotional attachment has me giving the story a 6 out of 10 as a result.
Gameplay should be the most important aspect of Sweven. It is a platformer after all. Unfortunately, this was a mixed bag. The puzzles were very simple to figure out. They did have some nice variety however. Where the game really suffered though was from the actual design choices. You are guaranteed during your 30 minute or so journey to die at least as many times. Why? Because there is no warning when you set off traps. Therefore, you will be required to employ trial and error as a method of moving forward. Additionally, the controls fight you at times. This is made more compelling when faced with the fact that the controls are simply jump and move. Should be simple enough to avoid any real issues
You are a bunny and yet inexplicably, your ability to hop about is diminished whenever you really need to do so. You can jump pretty high when you aren’t in the middle of a platforming puzzle, but when you are, suddenly you can barely get off the ground. Between this fact and the cheap nature of the traps being set off with no warning, gameplay is definitely the weakest aspect of the game. While the puzzles can be creative, they mostly struggle against poor controls and zero warning. All that said, you will still have an easy time with the game. It should just simply not have included unnecessary struggle.bunny and yet i
As such, I give gameplay in Sweven a 5 out of 10.
The graphics in Sweven are actually the games strongest aspect. This really is a beautiful game. Mostly the presentation is black, white, and grey. However, the occasional introduction of color, such as the red flowers (which also serve as checkpoints) and blue crystals really demonstrate an effective and refined use of contrast. Use of shading really sets off the work even more. The artwork is really top tier despite also being minimalist in nature. This is a great looking game.
8.5 out of 10
The audio in Sweven is pretty solid as well. The subtle soundtrack provides a nice backdrop to the gameplay and the actual sounds are clear and resonate perfectly with the setting. Beyond that, they aren’t really notable, but then I think the choice was for audio to be an enhancement rather than a focus in the game.
8 out of 10
Sweven is a game you won’t regret trying and the price of entry is reasonable for what should be considered a more artistic endeavor. I didn’t see any real reason for the subtle inclusion of social commentary and the actual platforming wasn’t good, but despite its flaws, Sweven is a game worth checking out. Just know going in that it weighs in at about 30 minutes and has zero replay value.