STAFF REVIEW of Verlet Swing (Xbox One)

Sunday, July 21, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Verlet Swing Box art I generally tend to gravitate towards the weird and abstract. Why, I’m not sure, but I did so once again as soon as I saw the trailer for Verlet Swing. Weird and abstract is definitely how I would best describe Verlet Swing. It’s premise is basic as it comes; swing from point A to point B to beat the level. Much like Spider-man, you’ll have a hookshot of sorts to do so, but simply getting to point B won’t be easy, not in the slightest.

While there’s no narrative or story at all within Verlet Swing, it’s as if you were having a very weird dream, complete with floating pizza slices, dolphins in the air and any other weird stuff you can conjure in your mind. Your goal for each stage, of which there are 100, is to make it to the end, denoted by a glowing orb. The first handful of levels will be easy, swinging from anchor point to anchor point to the end, but by about half way through the game, you better have some self-control so you don’t toss your controller through the window.

Maneuvering from point to point to reach the end takes a lot of time and practice. Sure, pro speed runners are able to do levels in a matter of mere seconds, but there’s been times where I’ve been stuck on a single stage for at least a half hour at a time. Nearly anything you see can be latched onto and swung from, though there will be a lot of curve balls thrown your way as you progress further. Eventually you’ll have many items and objects that can’t be tethered to, so you’ll need to swing around, up or under them, using momentum to propel yourself.

Playing the previous Spider-man games, you feel fantastic when you’re swinging at high speeds, maneuvering exactly how you want. Sadly, you don’t always get the same feeling with Verlet Swing, usually due to falling or dying, as touching the ground or any object instantly kills you, prompting for a restart. You’ll need to fling yourself through tight spaces, around corners and with absolute precision. Problem is, it’s very difficult to do so. I’m not sure if it’s a controller limitation, as I could see it being a little easier with a mouse to do, as I would constantly latch onto the wrong object, or one way in the distance instead of the one I intended right in front of me.

When I described Verlet Swing as weird and abstract, I meant it. You’ll start by swinging across levels with plain columns, pillars and geometry, but eventually you’ll have Easter Island Moai statue heads that break apart as you get close, allowing you to swing from the smaller debris fragments. Soon you’ll swing from pizza slice propellers, flying bubbles, giant dolphins and many other weird imagery that I can’t even begin to describe. It truly is something you need to see and experience for yourself to wrap your head around, as simple words don't do it justice.

Progress is gated by completing the stage you’re currently on to unlock the next. This means that once, not if, you hit a brick wall of difficulty, you won’t be able to progress any further. I’m somewhat near the end, but I’ve thrown in the towel after a massive amount of frustration. I wish you were able to bypass levels and possibly come back, or maybe have the teapots you earn per level (essentially stars) dictate what levels you can attempt. Either way, the difficulty ramps up real quick, and while I’m generally patient, I eventually gave up due to frustration.

That being said, not all levels are needed to be completed in a single way. While you do need to make it to the orb at the end to finish the levels, how you get there is completely up to you. One of the earlier levels has you navigating these narrow corridors, which was near impossible, but once I figured out a spot to fling myself up and over the wall, the 15 second level only took me 3 seconds or so. While not all will be laid out like so, I’ve definitely completed some levels in an unintended way.

While you are scored per level via the teapots, this indicates that you’re able to replay levels if you really want to challenge yourself with climbing leaderboards and besting your own times. Trust me though, eventually you’ll just be happy that you can complete a level, regardless of the time it took to do so. For those that really want a challenge though, there is Mixer integration, so when you stream it to your audience, they can mess with your game, throwing you even more curveballs and difficult situations.

Right Trigger is how you swing from the object your cursor is currently pointed at, provided it’s an object you can anchor to. You use the Sticks to move and look around, needing to adjust your movement slightly in the air to take tight corners. While you’ll never feel as smooth as Spider-man swinging along rooftops, when you do hit a good flow, purposely, it does feel great. On the flip side, dying for a half hour straight to the same object or corner will make you want to uninstall it just as quickly.

Verlet Swing’s appeal is going to be based on how much patience you have, if you really enjoy challenging yourself or crave climbing leaderboards. You’re going to need to persevere through a lot of frustration if you want to even get close to completing all 100 levels, but my hats off to you if you’re able to do so; at least the soundtrack is upbeat and doesn’t wear out its welcome. Sure it’s got some really out there visuals and is the definition of abstract, but patience is a virtue, and absolutely required to get through Verlet Swing.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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