Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP has been on our collective minds here at TouchArcade for over a year now. The first time I saw the game, I called it "the most amazing game I've seen at GDC". Blake was sitting nearby for the initial demonstration of the game, and later offered his own remarkably positive impressions. A year passed without much news on Sword & Sworcery aside from the Superbrothers team popping up for air every now and again to deliver some new screenshots, a brief video, or vaguely mention a potential release date. We caught up with them again at this year's GDC where we were let in on the terrible secret of Sword & Sworcery's development.

It turned out that what we were shown of Sword & Sworcery was all that was actually even completed at the time, and we had fallen in love with what amounted to little more than a prototype. This unconventional development approach actually allowed Superbrothers to follow the community feedback on what people expected the game to be, implementing quite a few of the suggestions along the way. In comparison, typically when we're given a game preview the title is finished or close to it. At that point, there's not much a developer can do with major community complaints aside from attempt to address them in updates. Superbrothers turned this process on its head, and it shows when you're playing the game.

Before I continue with this preview, there's something you should know about Sword & Sworcery. It's as much of an experience as it is a game, and at times it's more of an experience of pixel art and music than it is an actual game. This makes determining what is and isn't technically a spoiler very difficult, as discovery is such an important element of this whole experimental project that Superbrothers is conducting.

If you've found yourself captivated by the few S&S details that have leaked out over the past year and have decided you're going to download the game regardless, I'd really just stop reading here. It will have the most impact and by far will be the best experience going in to the game completely blind. Of course, I won't blame you if you need to keep reading, but just beware that all bets are off after this screenshot:

Sword & Sworcery opens with a mysterious cigar smoking man known only as "The Archetype". He explains that "S:S&S EP does not produce the transcendent experience, it is merely intended to free the nervous system of ordinary patterns." The Archetype serves as a narrator of sorts, and recaps what happened between sessions. Initially, he tells you that your first quest, which largely serves as part introduction and part tutorial. A few more taps on the screen and you're playing as "The Scythian" in a lush forest.

The game is controlled like most other point and click (or, point and tap, I suppose) adventure games in that you can drag the camera around with one finger and use familiar pinching gestures to zoom in or out. Double tapping makes your character move to that location, or you can press and hold to move continuously in that direction. Once you've got a handle for the controls you're quickly introduced to "Girl", "Logfella" and "Dogfella", the three supporting characters you'll spend a considerable amount of time with on your quests.

Throughout the game, you'll need to use both sword and sworcery to progress. Drawing your sword to enter battle involves rotating the iPad 90 degrees, at which point a button appears for defending with your shield as well as attacking with your sword. As mentioned in previous S&S articles, combat works a lot like classic NES Punch-Out!! with emphasis on timing. Fights range from being very simple, requiring only blocking and counter-attacking to multi-phase boss battles.

Like any good adventure game, there's a hefty amount of puzzles. Completing these requires "singing the song of sworcery," or, holding your finger on the Scythian until she is enveloped in a colorful halo of light. You will then be able to interact with the environment to complete puzzles that involve both music and logic.

Music plays an absolutely massive part in the game, as the soundtrack was created by Jim Guthrie exclusively for Sword & Sworcery. Similarly, the game itself was created around the music. It is incredibly cool how well the audio and visual effects tie together, at times feeling more like a movie than a video game. There's even a point where the two collide, invoking spine-chilling levels of awesomeness.

I'm reluctant to get much more specific in this preview, but the gloves will be off for our full review when the game launches this Thursday. What I will say is that having played all the way through Sword & Sworcery already, I think it's incredible how Superbrothers have managed to combine both action-oriented gameplay through sword fighting and incredibly existential puzzles through the sworcery components. I enjoyed the game with a partner, who is great at decoding musical puzzles, while I handled the fighting and movement. It was an incredible experience, even more so as our two play styles managed to complement each other for completing the two distinctly different modes of gameplay.

If this preview has left you wanting even more and you can't wait until Thursday, Superbrothers sent us the following brief gameplay video captured from the opening portions of the game. Much like reading this preview, if you really want the full experience of discovering this game I'd avoid watching it.

Stay tuned for the iPad release of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP which is scheduled this Thursday. Like all Thursday game releases, it will actually hit the US App Store at 11:00 PM EST on Wednesday, or earlier than that if you're using one of the various international App Stores. We'll have our full review then, but I still won't recommend that you read it until after completing the game. If you've got an iPhone, Superbrothers is saying the iPhone-specific version of the game will arrive sometime next month.

  • http://colorflys.igotitgames.com David McGraw

    Sounds pretty dang amazing. Can't wait to get my fingers on it.

  • Riggy469

    Just watched the first 3 mins of the video and forced myself to stop. I love the music and the art style of this game. I cannot wait for Weds. 11pm!

  • Kittystew

    Will this be compatible on iphone too?

    • kuuks

      Yes, it's out on iPad today, but coming out soon for iPhone

  • gee

    finally after years of development.
    ...is it coming out for the iphone too.

  • Lock_Dock

    Kittystew,

    Exclusive for iPad... =(

    • Wrong.

      Wrong. It'll be released on the iPhone in a month.

    • krispiotrowski

      It's coming to the iphone a month after ipad.

  • Lock_Dock

    Link please?

    • Wrong.

      The devs have only posted on Twitter 1239818414 times...

      • Guest

        ^ Also, the article itself says "If you've got an iPhone, Superbrothers is saying the iPhone-specific version of the game will arrive sometime next month."

  • Anonymous

    Now, if all the pixel art naysayers would care to form an orderly line just here, I'm ready to start dishing out the beatings.

    • JCat_NY

      Best lol all day! Here, borrow my baseball bat. Seriously though, since my iPad (well, now turned iPad 2) I have zero interest in big budget console games. The idevices are delivering the experience I was missing since the pre-Playstation era. This game looks mind numbingly phenomenal.

  • Anonymous

    no ones talked about how much this game is going to cost?? thats the real deal breaker for me!!

    • Anonymous

      The developer(s?) already said in a forum topic it would be under $9.99 (no not $9.99, under).

      • Nate

        Thanks for the info! If the iPad ver is under $10 then the iPhone version usually cheaper, isn't?

      • kuuks

        It's out today and it's 4.99. Yippee!

  • Stirolak26

    If you guys think this will be the next okami or zelda ocarina of time I still think youll be dissappinted. It will be a fun distraction for ios but do you guys really think this would sell as a full blown 3ds or ngp launch title?

    • Anonymous

      No, it probably wouldn't, but I'm not sure what that means. Pilotwings Resort is going to sell as a 3DS launch title and from all reviews it looks to be a very shallow game (basically it's like a short minigame from Wii Sports Resort or something).

      I'd strongly suspect that this has more worth and will be a fraction of the cost of a large portion of the 3DS's launch library.

      • Stirolak26

        But you guys have been hyping this up like the nest coming of ios revolution or something. Likeyou guys started crying when it was announced to come out on ipad first in the lst topic about it. Come on now just get okami or something if ur that desperate.

      • Stirolak26

        Also, secret of mana (superior game) is already out on ios, so why all the hype for this?

      • Anonymous

        Wait, what are you talking about? What does Okami or Secret of Mana or anything else have to do with why people are excited or looking forward to this game? I don't know about people hyping this up as the next coming of iOS revolution, but seriously, who cares?

        I think most people have just been looking forward to it because

        This seems like bashing people who were excited for Braid to come out on PC's/etc. by saying it isn't the next Super Mario Bros. or something.

        No, Braid wasn't - it was something different.

        Same thing here - this is nominally in the same genre as the other games you mentioned, but it's also it's own thing.

        What exactly is it that you want? People to not be looking forward to this game? People to not be looking forward to anything in the adventure genre that isn't Okami or Zelda or a port of an old Square game?

      • Stirolak26

        It sure wouldnt sell as a full blown title though. Who would buy this for $40 over Zelda or even the recent ds okami?

      • zadillo

        Again, I'm not sure what your point is?

        And how do you know it wouldn't sell as a full blown title? This looks to have more content and gameplay than something like Pilotwings Resort (which, as reviews have pointed out, is basically the flying minigame of Wii Sports Resort).

        I'm not sure that a game's ability to sell for $40 on the DS has much merit. There are plenty of Nintendo DS games that sell for $30 too that have very little merit. And there are iOS games that sell for $1-10 that have plenty of merit.

      • Shando

        This game looks good, thus people are looking forward to it. What is so hard to understand about that?

        So you're saying that to you, Okami looks like it is worth spending $40 on, but this does not. And? Why is the question of whether or not it would sell at a ridiculous price (NONE of those titles are worth $40 in my opinion) have any bearing on whether or not it is a quality title or not?

        You're judging this game based on criteria no one cares about, before it's even out.

      • http://twitter.com/The_Unflattered Gee Lampa

        The better question would be "Is Okamiden worth $40?" ..and the answer is NO WAY.

        Fils-Aime is just like the record industry guys; he's clinging to an outmoded distribution method and pricing structure, and bashing iOS because the iPhone is crushing him. I wouldn't be surprised if the big "N" is refusing to do business w/ any developers who also work on iOS titles.

        In any case, his remarks are a poor reflection on the VERY old and honorable company that employs him.

      • http://twitter.com/The_Unflattered Gee Lampa

        The better question would be "Is Okamiden worth $40?" ..and the answer is NO WAY.

        Fils-Aime is just like the record industry guys; he's clinging to an outmoded distribution method and pricing structure, and bashing iOS because the iPhone is crushing him. I wouldn't be surprised if the big "N" is refusing to do business w/ any developers who also work on iOS titles.

        In any case, his remarks are a poor reflection on the VERY old and honorable company that employs him.

      • Gaspar300

        i would pick this game over ANY 3DS or DS title ANyDAY! seriously, this game is a piece of art, the concept, the looks, zelda has no match for it, i'm sorry if i'm bursting your bubble, but Nintendo and Sony are currently the competition for iOS, not the other way around.

      • http://twitter.com/The_Unflattered Gee Lampa

        I would, because it looks better than those, and more importantly, it looks DIFFERENT.

        I played a little of Okamiden, and it's as boring as s**t. So many cutesy cut-scenes, that I wondered if I'd ever get to the gameplay!! Zzzzzzzzz........

      • http://twitter.com/The_Unflattered Gee Lampa

        I can't deny that Pilotwings and Ghost Recon look to be great, but if it were 5 years ago, and this game was announced for the DS at retail price, I'd be all over it.

    • Anonymous

      Not if you don't want it to be the next Okami or Zelda Ocarina.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frédéric-Lormois/100000030609443 Frédéric Lormois

      How are you sure this isn't the new Zelda ?
      The video is impressive, very impressive.
      This seems far better than 90% of the launch 3DS games.
      So what ?
      You speak as a nin fanboy, not as a gamer. Who care of the platform ? A masterpiece is a masterpiece, the price is not a deal in this case.
      Are you saying that an iOS game can't be a masterpiece only because this is an iOs game ? nonsense.
      This game seems as a blast. THAT is a reality. This game seems better than a lot of the NGP or 3DS games, that is also a reality.
      I'm sure this game would be on 3DS you will be very excited...but so, on iOS, you are juste trolling...

  • Anonymous

    Btw, remember folks, this is not art, but Paul Blart: Mall Cop is.... because movies are art, but games are not.

    • Jimp

      All I have to say is ...

      • Noman

        ...nice sarcasm

  • Dtstro

    The pixel art is AMAZING! I especially love the cave that resembles a man's head. All around it looks like a winner. Can't wait to own this on Wednesday night.

  • Anonymous

    I gotta get my accelerometer fixed by next month!

  • Otisframpton

    This has a "what if David Fincher directed a Legend of Zelda game" feel to it. Everything I've seen about this game makes me want to play it and I'm not sure why. Can't wait to get it on my iPad.

  • twodimensionalme

    I'm tired of this game already.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      LOL

  • Msscactus

    I believe.

    • nate

      in fairies

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    I AM ERROR

  • Aer2

    stopped reading after the preview said to stop :) guess i'll just have to read the game description and see the price.

  • Yeti

    Yikes, what ugly graphics..

    • skamando

      Yikes, what a tasteless gamer...

    • Marszmalow

      Nice try.

  • http://www.appfreakblog.com appfreak

    Great preview @hodapp. I'm on love with the graphic style, and watching the video with the music it works great. I would normally avoid games that can be played only once, but the level of production of this game will make me buy it on the release date regardless of the price.

    This is what the iPad benefits from, and not Angry Birds Rio already #1

  • Ryan

    I don't understand, what's all the fascination about in a bunch of dots and pixels I think the whole experience looks awful, ugly, and hideous; but that's just me and to each their own. One man's trash is another man's treasure. But, wouldn't this be a more appropriate title on an older or more primitive device like a calculator; then you could get even the whole monochrome experience with it as well. Blocks are SQUARE, curves are sexy. Give me realistic graphics over blocks any day. I played with blocks as a child. This looks like cave man gameing. If you all thought that was cool, I imagine you could be impressed at the crap I could produce with the Commodor emulator and BASIC programming language... Talk about your blocks and pixelations.

    • Captainbob

      Trolling, trolling, trolling, keep them doggies trolling, Rawhide!

    • kuuks

      Well the game came out today, play it and then see if you still feel the same way. The art is obviously very deliberately pixelated, and it's gorgeous!

      The game is minimalist in some ways, but also very sophisticated in other ways. I guess you just can't account for taste. You sound like one of those people that can't appreciate Picasso's later work.

  • Anonymous

    "mind numbingly phenomenal"? I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what that means. :)