REVIEW / Swordship (PC)


I think it’s fairly safe to say that nobody can be good at everything. In the world of gaming never a statement was truer. Just because we love a trope, playstyle or genre doesn’t mean we’re going to be wired the right way to be good at it. With this being said there are things that we can become good at with practice, and this is great when it happens. There are also going to be plenty of occasions when it’s more of an exercise in frustration when we know that we’re just a lost cause. It’s important to note that a game being good and us being good at a game are very different things, but when there’s money involved the end result is going to be the same when we’ve spent out on a game that just gets shelved. This is an important note for today’s game. Swordship is heaps of fun but I think it’ll definitely be an acquired skill set for some players.



Swordship is a very different animal from a lot of the action titles I’ve played of late. In this game, you aren’t trying to blow up enemy ships, mostly because you don’t have any weapons. Swordship is a dodge-em-up. You’ll be speeding along a waterway as turrets, mines, and other nefarious nasties attempt to turn you into scrap. You’ll need to use your reflexes and a decent knowledge of how each enemy attacks to avoid them, or even better; to make them kill each other. The idea is absolutely brilliant, but even for an avid action fan this is going to take a bit of rewiring. Asking any player trained and versed in actively killing enemies to run away from them is a difficult thing to do. When you get the hang, though, there’s loads of fun to be had here.


Turrets! As long as they’re shooting at each other and not you, all is good.


If you can’t multitask you’re going to have a nightmare of a time with Swordship. You literally need catlike reflexes if you’re going to stand any real chance at this game. Aside from doing everything possible not to get destroyed by everything wanting to end you, you’re also a delivery service. You’ll have to pick up containers and drop them off at various exchange pads that’ll appear as you go. This means lining yourself up for a pickup while you might also be in the sights of a turret. Having said this, it’s probably fairly obvious that timing is key. You need to work out whether you have time to perform the pick-up before you’re dodging death. If you’re a couple of second out, well, you can probably guess what the result is going to be. When you have a container in your possession. you then need to drop it off which involves waiting a few seconds on a drop-pad without being hit by anything. In addition to this, you’re moving pretty quickly so the speed of the game takes a little getting used to.


All we need to do is stay on the yellow line without getting shot or veering into either of those cannons. Easy right?!


The juggling act that I’ve just described is pretty much the core of the fun of Swordship. That and watching the enemies blowing each other to bits is really satisfying. The frustration comes from the fact that it’s a one-shot-kill if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you die you’ll be sent back to the start of the run you’re on and have to attempt to get through unscathed. There are really well-used roguelike mechanics present in this title so you’ll be facing a different set of enemies with each life. This means that there’s a very real likelihood that you’ll be repeating levels multiple times because you won’t be able to plan ahead. I know this is part of the fun but you only have a finite number of lives and a whole game to complete without losing them. I think it’s difficult enough to put the roguelike pressure on the player without all the restarts. I’d like to just pick up where I left off after dying. The difficulty curve is plenty big enough to provide a challenge as it is without unnecessary repetition.


There’s a whole museum to unlock as well as a ton of in-game additions. This makes for loads of replayability.


What I really like is the way that the containers you’re picking up work in the game. Between each level, you’ll find yourself making a choice. You can either ship the containers you’ve collected to their rightful owners, keep them for yourself, or split them whichever way you see fit. The more you give up the more score you’ll achieve. As you hit different score markers you’ll unlock new ships, secrets, and other goodies that will alter the game experience. I mean, who doesn’t want to dodge killer artillery in a lightning storm, right? The ones you keep give you extra lives and can be opened to reveal powerups. You’ll have to think carefully about how you split your loot if you’re going to succeed in the long run.



Happily, for me, Swordship is a game that I picked up with some practice. This was after I replayed the first line, (lines are runs,) of the first world multiple times. For a long time, though, I just couldn’t get the timing right and frustration was definitely setting in. I think I kept at it mostly because I was here telling you all about the game and it wouldn’t have been much of a review if I’d only seen three enemies. I found that things just clicked into place on one run when I did really well for the first time. The frustration I’d been feeling was replaced with absolute adrenaline and suddenly I was having a whale of a time. I think If I’d just been playing for myself though, I might not have gotten that far and chalked this up to being one of those games I’d never be able to master. It would have been left gathering dust in my library and I’d have been down on cash I’d have spent on something else. This would have also been really unfair to what is in essence a brilliant title.


Dividing your containers carefully is hugely important.


Swordship is a fast-paced, arcade-roguelike that’s not quite like anything I’ve played before. The graphics are blocky, cartoony, and gorgeous in their simplicity and the music score fits the pace of the game perfectly. Aside from the sound and visuals, the controls couldn’t be simpler. This isn’t a game about complex maneuvers involving a bunch of different commands. This is about you using your timing and judgment in the best way you possibly can. Believe me when I say it’s just as easy to screw up using only the WASD keys as it is when you have a litany of things to remember. You’ll also find that you just have less to blame things on than your own lack of skill.



If you’re a player that loves a ton of tension right from the first beats of a game or one that craves a level of difficulty that would be off-putting to others Swordship is the game for you. If you’re an action fan looking for something different to get stuck into this might also be the game for you but maybe watch some let plays first before spending money. I don’t think I’d risk buying this one on a whim, especially if you’re on a budget. If you’re the kind of player that likes the idea of a game like this but is either easily frustrated or needs pretty quick gratification this is going to be a frustrating experience for you. The gameplay loop in Swordship is one that takes a bit of getting used to and as this is literally the core of the entire game it’s not something you can get around. It really will be a case of either you get it or you don’t. Regardless of this, Swordship is a fun, frantic, and fast-paced affair if you can handle it.




This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

Furious fun!
  • 8/10
    Look and feel - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Controls - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Challenge - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Replayability - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Gameplay - 8/10

Not for the faint of heart

Swordship isn’t a game for the easily frustrated. This is a title for players seeking a challenge and even then the speed and precision required to really master this title may not be for everyone. When you get the hang of things there’s a ton of fun to be had here. You just need to be sure you can handle the pace.