Review: Pendula Swing: The Complete Journey (Nintendo Switch)

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Pendula Swing – The Complete Journey isn’t a game that you’re expecting. If you were to take one look at the game, you might think you have it figured out. Yeah, would you have guessed that offers complex focuses on discrimination, culture, and immigration issues? Probably not. Would you expect to use those themes in a 1920s jazz-filled world mixed with trolls? Also probably not. Pandora Swing takes what you expect and completely turns it on its head into an interesting adventure. While it’s definitely not a game for everyone, or even myself, Pandora Swing – The Complete Journey offers an interesting take on exploring very real-world issues in a fictional setting.

The whole idea of Pandora Swing is that you were on a peaceful island long after battles had taken place. Your world is filled with both classic fantasy-trope trolls and humans, trying to co-exist in the world set in the 1920s. Stylistically there’s nothing like Pendula Swing. It slaps 1920s jazz in your face at every moment, which is something unique today. The game also offers you a distinctive way of play, if you truly want to call it “playing”. There’s almost no fighting whatsoever, except for a fight that shows off the past. Instead the game is about exploring social issues facing this world. You meet people throughout the town who have their own stories to tell, including talking about their traditions, morals, and even gripes they have with others.

This is where your enjoyment with the game will largely depend on your preferred way of playing. Like I said, this is about social issues, and you need to interact with almost everyone in the world to truly get an understanding of what is going on. To be fair, Pendula Swing does try to remain level-headed and offer a positive take on real-world problems such as racism, discrimination, and immigrants.

My issue with Pendula Swing is that I’m not very much into a purely “talking game.” The idea of simply talking to everyone in town loses me quite quickly. While there’s a very unique art style and a nice soundtrack, you start to lose me after the 30th person I’ve had to talk to. It’s definitely an interesting take on puzzles, needing to talk to enough people to find the right person you need at the right time. Ultimately for me, who is not very much into that style,I had to force myself through to move the narrative along. That’s the other thing about Pendula Swing. There’s no real overarching story that builds to a climactic finale. This is a game about people living their lives and you helping them out through very real issues. Again, it’s an interesting gameplay idea that’s not going to be for everyone.

Is Pendula Swing – The Complete Journey worth your time? Really that depends on the type of player you are. If you are the type of player who absolutely loves narrative adventures about exploring people’s lives, and very real-world issues, then this is for you. If that description isn’t your type of game, then it’s going to be hard to recommend Pendula Swing. It’s very much a game about talking to people and dealing with very serious topics.

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