Swinging through environments in games is a simple pleasure that’s oddly difficult to get right. You want to have freedom, but you also want to feel momentum and speed with every decision you make. The easiest example would be the excellent Marvel’s Spider-Man, but what would happen if the webslinger ate some bad fish and had one too many drinks before bed?
Well, beyond the assumed food poisoning, I imagine Peter’s fever dreams would look a lot like Verlet Swing. This new physics-based arcade swinging game for PS4 offers slick first-person swinging through surreal and brightly colored levels with the added challenge of never touching anything but the goal portal at the end. Should you take a swing at this and chase a high score? Let’s find out.
Simple to Learn, Hard to Master
Verlet Swing doesn’t have a story or characters to justify its insane visuals, and that’s totally fine. The approach is a pure injection of adrenaline and endorphins from hitting those high scores or narrowly reaching the goal.
With 100 levels to unlock across five distinct themes, Verlet Swing is no slouch on content. Even with the levels only about 30 to 60 seconds a piece, you will rarely get to the end on the first try in later levels. Even if you do manage to nail it on the first try, you’ll see a rating and score at the end designed to push you into doing better.
Leaderboards further ingrain the competitive edge the game is going for. It also helps that Verlet Swing is designed for speed in more than just the gameplay. Menus are simple and slick, and load times are supremely fast. Whether you’re restarting the level or respawning after a sudden death, Verlet Swing rarely lets you take a breath.
You do get a moment to pause and think at the beginning of each level, but once you throw out your beam and begin swinging, the action starts. In each level of Verlet Swing there are anchor points that you can latch onto, but you can connect yourself to almost every surface as well.
Certain surfaces, which are usually easy to spot, won’t let you connect with them, but the levels do a great job of laying out a path among the chaos of the environments. An example would be the first chunk of levels, which clearly separate bright white objects (which you can connect with), and darker elements that won’t allow you to swing from them.
A speedometer on the bottom of the screen keeps you updated on your current rate of movement, but the speed and wind effects in the game also impart an excellent sense of momentum. I think a title like this would be superb with a VR mode, especially since the head tracking could be tied to the aiming reticule, but no such option is available here. Perhaps in the future.
Difficulty scales up nicely, but I will say it was in the later part of the first set of levels (so about 10-15 levels), that I started to require up to 10 attempts before I could suss out a potential path to the goal. The physics in Verlet Swing feel very weighty and realistic, despite the levels being complete fever dreams.
This means that the distance from the object you’re swinging from matters. Your speed of movement matters in terms of inertia, and your ability to think quickly on your feet could easily mean the difference between success and failure. It may not have a wide breadth of mechanics or a story to propel you forward, but Verlet Swing nails its main mechanic with poise and grace, so the swings themselves will be plenty to keep you coming back for more.
An Eclectic Mix of Styles and Ordered Chaos
Verlet Swing’s visuals vary nicely across the different themes, but I can’t say the same for the music. While the soundtrack was fine at first, I soon found it to be too repetitive and distracting from the gameplay. It’s very rare that I turn down the music in a game’s settings, but Verlet Swing forced me to do so for the sake of concentration.
While Verlet Swing offers essentially one main mechanic across 100 levels, the way swinging looks and feels makes it enough to carry the experience all the way through. The eternal chase for that high score and max rating will appeal to plenty of gamers. I’m sure Verlet Swing will find an audience on Twitch as well, as this is one of the few games out there that’s just as much fun to watch as it is to play.
If you like the sound of intense swinging puzzles across surreal and strange environments, Verlet Swing is an easy title to recommend. It does one thing, but it does it very, very well.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Verlet Swing was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 6/20/19