"Swigian" is a very bare-bones game, but with a touch of the surreal about it. Nearly all objects have nothing to say about themselves aside from what they are: a spear is a spear, a meal is a meal, a crown is a crown, nothing more or less. And yet there's something about the default description message that feels ... I don't know. Surly? It manages to convey the idea that, perhaps, our main character is of a particularly simple, or even animalistic, mindset....

At the very least, the minimalist approach produces a stylised effect quite in keeping with the subject matter. Like those painted scenes on ancient Egyptian murals, or mediaeval iconography. It taps into the sense of the mythic.

The puzzles, too, are pretty simple and basic. We're almost always advised by the text as to what needs to be done. I think, really, we're meant to just ride along and experience the (very stylised) journey with only just enough puzzle-hurdling to ensure our engagement and complicity.

This sort of minimalist format is counted enough of a weakness these days, that I'm not sure that this is entirely a design decision based on the subject matter. I suspect, rather, that the author recognised their current limitations and did their best to write around those limitations, thus turning them into strengths. If you can't get the hang of omelettes or if the yolks of your fried eggs keep breaking in the pan, you can always stir them up and make scrambled eggs. If they're the best dang scrambled eggs on the block, nobody needs to know they were supposed to be something else.


I do wonder about a couple of the game sequences, though. I began to suspect, when we came upon a mead hall and were told we needed protection to enter, that we might be Grendl from the Beowulf saga. This was confirmed later, towards the end of the game. But if we're Grendl, what's the sequence with the crypt and the treasures all about? Is this an obscure part of the saga that most people don't know about, or are we playing what is really an origin story for Grendl, as imagined by the author? The minimalist format doesn't explain and doesn't make a lot of room for explanation. Perhaps we are meant to make our own conjectures.

So yeah. Scrambled eggs on a slice of rye toast. Tomato juice. Simple and forgiving, but not without flavour.