The skewed action in Swaps and Traps brings a delightful new approach to creating something modern and original to the typical standards we see in today’s platforming releases. While the same deadly obstacles and long jumps that help construct some of the best aspects from platformers today still exist in TeamTrap‘s debut release, a new kind of trap lies atop the head of the evil Divider’s head. His magical hat is capable of completely disorienting the screen, giving our hero Mike quite the methodical platforming adventure.
The blonde haired, muscle-bound protagonist is as carefree as they come, but when Mike hears of the theft of the enchanted hat by none other than his nemesis, ‘Divider’, things become a little more personal for our hero. You see, this mystical hat has the powers to change perception right before your eyes, and it’s up to Mike to retrieve the special keys, in turn, capturing the Divider – and his vile, disorienting ways. The story may be completely bonkers and provide very little depth of intrigue yes, but the gameplay does its job to keep you entertained.
Forgettable Plot With Memorable Gameplay
While the plot line isn’t anything to rave about, and the extremely awkward voice-overs strip any sort of justice away from the otherwise slick visuals, the concept behind Swaps and Traps is a doozy. Each stage consists of numerous platforms and treacherous obstacles that the player must evade to reach our dreadful villain, Divider. However, before Divider can be reached – which promptly clears the level allowing access to the next area – players must collect the cursed key(s) in each stage.
Starting off the game with only one key per stage, Mike leaps and dodges his way around the small screen-sized obstacle course to grab the golden key. Once the key is grabbed, however, is when the levels begin to get interesting. Snatching the key may be the means for clearing the stage, but it also is the “key” element in completely rearranging portions of the screen. Just when you think Swaps and Traps will be your everyday modern platformer, things take a twisted turn and the game really starts to shine.
Taking one portion of the screen and swapping it with a portion on the other side can cause some very confusing, but highly entertaining reactions throughout the game. As you progress, the portions become smaller and more keys begin to appear in the stage, which adds more disorientation to the already bewildering stages. Collecting multiple keys in one stage can add an extra portion to be swapped, or even more puzzle inducing mayhem by rotating an already swapped portion. It’s common to find yourself re-configuring the controls mid-stage to adapt to an upside down platformer.
A Disorienting Adventure
As you begin making your way through the stages things become not only more difficult from a platformer standpoint, but upon collecting numerous keys in one stage the utter confusion will begin to set in. Luckily, the developers realize how swapping out sections of the stage, as well as flipping them 180 degrees, can turn a rather straightforward level into an altered mess. Players thus have the option to reference back to the original layout in still photo form. With the press of the button, players can view an image of a particular stage’s original layout, even after sections have been swapped and flipped. As players begin to experiment they will soon discover that blindly leaping into a swapped section can often lead to death.
What really makes Swaps and Traps unique is that the entire stages aren’t completely flipped, but merely particular sections. While most of the stage might stay put after collecting a cursed key, the difficulty lies in the swapped sections that completely skew the player’s perception. Flipping and swapping out sections slows down the game as players try to figure out just how to land in a desired area, but that’s exactly what makes Swaps and Traps so approachable. Like most difficult platformers, our protagonist perishes after only one hit, giving a huge emphasis on trial and error, but the quick retry accessibility makes things much more attainable. The stages are extremely short, sometimes only taking a few seconds to complete, but it may take a few dozen tries to overcome some of the more challenging obstacles.
Tons Of Swapping Fun To Be Had
With up to 30 stages in each of the three chapters and a handful of off-the-wall bonus stages, Swaps and Traps never seems to come short of throwing thought-provoking challenges at the player. The platforming itself is a joy to control making for easy-to-learn gameplay, but the swapped portions of stages add just enough to keep the game thoroughly absorbing. While the story itself is forgettable, and the atrocious voice-over work does more damage than good, Swaps and Traps totally makes up for it with original and over-the-top platforming action.