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Best iPhone games: Sword And Sworcery EP

CVG hand-picks the greatest mobile games available to download right now

Mobile games are fun, simple and accessible, but that doesn't mean they are lightweight or insignificant. They have the ability to bend time and make commutes bearable; they transform idle moments into thrilling distractions. In a new series, CVG celebrates the most impressive examples of this exciting new wave of games.

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Best iPhone games: Sword and Sworcery EP

Also available on:
iPad

Generic fantasy settings make me angry. I hate magic, I hate mythological beasts, I hate humble wood-chopping NPCs in remote huts. I hate goblins. I hate mages. I really hate orcs.

So you can understand why I approached an adventure game called Sword and Sworcery EP with some caution. It was a joy (and a relief) to discover that perhaps its creators share my disdain for such powerfully tedious fantasy stereotypes. It takes these embarrassing tropes and makes them new, poking fun at them in unexpected ways. Its greatest joys lie in the game's beautiful audiovisual sheen and its pithy post-modern script. Your iPhone is used in vaguely Kojima-esque ways, too.

Headphones are essential here, because Jim Guthrie's beautiful score is the finest we've encountered on the App Store. It looks wonderful too. The game's one-man art guru Superbrothers has created a beautifully animated world, pixellated artistry of the highest order. It is sumptuous enough to amuse the eye during longer treks across the game's small but economical setting. Crystalline reflections in the game's lakes dazzle, and the odd, jutting geology of the woodland makes every screen a delight.

It is an adventure game from the point and click tradition, so the movement and interface is familiar. Its subtle and not-so subtle references are not - nods to Reel 2 Real, Zelda and The Office mingle in with Sword and Sworcery's more typical fantasy legends and fables. This is a silly videogame, its creators seem to be saying, even as you become utterly absorbed in its silly videogame world. Its inhabitants all have this weary post-modern demeanour - as if a whole bunch of 21st century slackers have been transplanted into that, like, hateful fantasy setting and it is totally freaking them out, amirite?

Gags are mostly at the expense of adventure genre conventions. The humble hut-dwelling, wood-chopping NPC is called Logfella. Powerful tales of mystery are set up with great pathos to be made utterly ridiculous in the next line. The next cute remark is never far away, and knowing that compels you onward. It dabbles in smugness at times, and prompts to tweet your experiences rankle a little, but they are rare missteps in this compelling, offbeat videogame.

Sword and Sworcery is not a five-minute distraction or arcadey snack. It is not suited for play between tube stops or as you wait for the bus. It is, however, a beautiful, immersive, subversive iOS adventure game.

Sword and Sworcery EP is £2.99 on the App Store. Download it here.

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