Swordshot starts off telling you a story about a broken pearl, of which each fragment becomes a world within the game. You can pick a fragment of the pearl to start to face – though some are more challenging than others. Once you are in a fragment, you will be given a set number of chapters within the world, each having a set number of levels. Some chapters have checkpoints, while others don’t. You’ll only have a limited amount of opportunities to get through the levels, which is where the challenge begins.
Thematic objects move around the central enemy – thunder and umbrellas around a storm cloud, a bunch of electronics around a strange creature, etc – and you need to shoot beyond them in order to hit the enemy. Tapping carefully to get it to go between the gaps and strike your enemy. Getting between these gaps can be quite a challenge, as the items circle around, often changing directions between hits. I’ve found the best strategy is to follow an object and figure out how far past you it needs to be in order to get your blade through, then continue following it around and tapping. This is far less effective when the middle creatures start moving in harder levels.
Swordshot is a challenge. To make things a little easier, there are three different power-ups that can be purchased using shards during each level. Some of these just knock a life off the enemy, while others refill your shots or help you in some way. Some levels do have bonuses that take you to a special round where you can hit other orbs to get more shards. Losing a run, however, will bring you back to the homepage – so purchasing these powerups can be important. That said, when you lose a level the game – to change up the pace – swaps out the enemy for a different one, which can be helpful if you find some really challenging.
I found Swordshot to be an incredibly challenging game – playing brought anger to my soul. I could not get past many levels or chapters on the first try, and watching my lives go down at the bottom of the screen (or seeing LAST CHANCE appear), made me basically give up. I know some people do like these one button, hyper challenges, but I am not sure how they can bring people without patience and timing any joy. Each level did feel like a challenge, which made completing bosses feel really powerful. I do like the graphic style and the strange story about the pearls, but I found the gameplay just wasn’t for me.