Swap Sword is what happens when you hurl a sword at videogame genres, spear match-three and dungeon crawling, and let the blood ooze down to pool into something rather special.
Your little samurai is trapped in a six-by-eight grid, full of walls, bling, keys, eggs, and a worrying amount of dynamite. No sooner do you utter “Phew! At least this place isn’t full of monsters!” than grinning frog-like beings armed with swords burst forth from the eggs, and head your way in a menacing and potentially stabby manner.
Cut and run
Fortunately, with Swap Sword being a match-three, movement is somewhat akin to a turn-based strategy – albeit on a battleground that continually shifts and changes.
If you’re facing off against a horde of enemies, you might be able to obliterate them all by matching three or more.
There are other strategies, too: when cornered, you can sometimes cleverly manipulate nearby objects, leaving you out of range after your turn, but ready to strike when monsters move in. Or you can shift walls and hide behind them, leaving the monsters baffled – the idiots.
This would all have made a perfectly nice endless gem-swapper, but Swap Sword adds further layers of strategy.
Score comes solely from collecting coins, and keys reveal an exit that you must reach before master sword-wielder Death arrives to slice you in two.
Between rounds, you can choose from spells, which are charged by collecting diamonds, and unleashed on demand – assuming you have enough power.
Then there are new environments after every four rounds, each having its own monsters and hazards, such as slippy ice that slides you clear across the playfield when you swap with it.
Curiously, cleave your way through a dozen rounds and the game abruptly ends with the speediest of victory sequences, before handing you a score. It’s at this point that some players might feel a bit cheated – after all, match-threes can go on for days if you’re good enough.
But Swap Sword wants to make you work for your high score. Emerge alive from your quest and you’ll delve back in, this time collecting as much bling as possible before legging it for the exit, avoiding Death’s swishing sword by the slimmest of margins.
It’s still not exactly Diablo III, but it’s a hell of a lot more tense than idly flicking gems about in Bejeweled.
SwapSword is available for iOS. An Android version is planned.