Looks are everything.
At first, Swag and Sorcery seems like a streamlined version of your average city builder, but it quickly proves you wrong. At its core, Swag and Sorcery is a more robust idle RPG experience than it lets on.
Its story is nothing to write home about, though, and it knows it. Problems are arising in a faraway kingdom, and the king refuses to take his advisor’s advice. The king seems to think that his great-grandfather’s “magical costume,” which was stolen years ago, will solve all the kingdom’s problems. His advisor, not very pleased with how his king is treating him, decides that he would be a better ruler for the kingdom. The majority of the narrative involves the advisor devising plans to sabotage the kingdom so that he can be king.
It’s like a colourful, tongue-in-cheek Game of Thrones.
Honestly, you don’t have to pay attention to the story if you don’t want to. It won’t take away from your experience. However, there are some charming bits and pieces here. The banter between the castle’s black cat and the narrator of the story, who often breaks the fourth wall, offers a couple of good laughs. For some reason, only a few characters have voiced lines of dialogue and others only have text boxes, which can be a little jarring. But the voiced lines that are here are pretty great.
Most of the gameplay revolves around purchasing new characters and sending them out into the world in search of quest items and loot. As you level up your characters, they’ll be able to take on tougher enemies. And tougher enemies mean better loot. The mechanic of sending your soldiers out is entirely idle. All you have to do it make sure they’re happy (by sending them to your village’s spa) and make sure they’re healthy (by sending them to your village’s church) beforehand.
Lazy Bear Games and Uroboros Games absolutely nail the idle aspect of this game. The quest bits don’t take too long, so you won’t find yourself waiting around for your soldiers to come back once you’ve sent them out. As you progress through the story, the game opens up more characters and up to three quest lanes, meaning you can send multiple soldiers out on quests at once or stagger your questing so someone is always out collecting loot while you craft the materials you need back at the village.
Crafting is also well-executed, but there are a couple of issues with it later on. Specifically, the tedium of gathering the items you need to take on the almost overwhelming number of options you have. A lot of the game’s beauty is rooted in how every item has a use. It never adds something to your inventory that you don’t need. It’s simple—ores and wood are at the core of everything you craft. But that’s where it starts to become overwhelming.
It never feels like you have enough items to complete the tasks available to you, and the process of prioritizing isn’t very fun. It’s nice to consistently have something to work toward, but that initial decision-making seems unnecessary. If there were just two or three few options at any given time, it would be a little easier to get past those bits and into the fun part of the game faster. However, these issues are easy to get past once you get a handle on them. As you progress, you’ll start to understand what your own priorities are, and these decisions become easier.
So far, it seems like a lot of sorcery, but where does the swag come in? Well, right off the bat, you can tell the people of this kingdom are a little too concerned with how they look. Appearances are everything, hence why the king thinks a costume can help solve all of his kingdom’s problems.
Early on, one of your tasks is to build a fashion house. This allows you to compete in costume competitions where you can earn cash—used to upgrade your characters and purchase new ones—and fancy new loot. Your success in these competitions is dictated by your character’s clothing. Different competitions have a different set of judges and each set has different preferences. Sometimes they prefer green clothing, others like a more casual look overall. The clothing items you have equipped to your characters have different appearance attributes, so your best bet is to align those to whatever the judges prefer.
This part of the Swag and Sorcery is just plain fun. It’s a little stupid and out of left field, but it’s really enjoyable and adds another layer of differentiation onto the entire package. It can take a while to craft the clothing you need to succeed in some of these competitions, but the rewards are worth it.
Overall, Swag and Sorcery is a great game. There are a few kinks along the way, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers some truly fun gameplay. It’s definitely worth your time and money.
[Reviewed on PC]