Swords and Bones Review: A Fine Action-Platformer Tribute

by David Sanchez February 10, 2022 @ 2:30 pm

Swords & Bones

Reviewed on Switch

It’s exciting when indie developers emulate classic genres because seeing what they come up with can be a lot of fun. Many times, we’re treated to some nice tributes to revered favorites. Other times, though, we unfortunately get the not-so-great parts of retro game design. Swords & Bones from SEEP is, thankfully, the former. The game pays tributes to iconic titles like Zelda II and Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and though it certainly doesn’t over-deliver, it still manages to satisfy with its enjoyable gameplay design.

A Pixelated Warrior Doing Pixelated Warrior Things

Swords & Bones doesn’t waste time dropping you into its fantasy world. Within moments of starting the game, you embark on your quest to rid a ravaged land of the malevolent forces that plague it. There are werewolves, zombies, goblins, and blobs. Most of the game’s enemies have unique attack patterns, and you’ll have to learn how to approach certain enemies more carefully than others, but there’s nothing here that’ll overly frustrate.

Swords & Bones Gameplay

There’s a nice mix of platforming and sword-based combat. While playing, I was often reminded of Shovel Knight. And while that game was a bit tighter and had overall better level designs, the structure and mechanics of Swords & Bones are still largely well-made and highly entertaining.

Early on, Swords & Bones is pretty easy — maybe a little too easy, actually. It’s still fun, but it definitely feels like the first half of the game is mostly about giving you some fun platforming action in nicely detailed pixel landscapes. Things pick up in the back half, though, as you’ll be faced with trickier jumps while also having to dodge projectiles, flying enemies, and tougher baddies. That said, while the difficulty certainly increases noticeably, it still never feels overly daunting like some of the games Swords & Bones is inspired by.

Reaching the end of Swords & Bones takes about two hours. That’s pretty short, and I would’ve enjoyed visiting the game’s world for maybe another hour or two. There are hidden collectibles to find in every level, and you can even upgrade your character’s health and abilities by using gold that’s dropped by enemies and tucked away in crates. That stuff adds a little extra to the game, but not too much either way. Still, if you want to collect everything, you can expect to invest a small chunk of time into doing so.

Classic Action Wrapped in a Classic-Looking Package

Swords & Bones Boss Fight

The pixel art of Swords & Bones is pretty great. As fun as the game is to play, its retro-inspired aesthetic might be its strongest aspect. Backgrounds and foregrounds look great and feature lots of color and detail. The enemies are a blend of pretty cool and fairly standard, but they work well together overall. Meanwhile the music is a little quirky but unfortunately mostly underwhelming.

It’s interesting — Swords & Bones is a fun little game, and there’s not much to really complain about here. It’s not an amazing game, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s actually a good, largely enjoyable action-platformer that’ll remind you of games like Shovel Knight. It’s $8 on Switch, which isn’t bad, but if you can get it on sale, it’s definitely an easy recommendation.

Score: 7 out of 10

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