Spirit Swap Is a Gorgeous Mesh of Queerness, Colors, and Chill Lo-Fi Beats

Cast spells to lo-fi beats, be cute and queer, and maybe even crash the biggest concert of the year.

There are so many incredible indies launching their Kickstarter campaigns this year. Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To — an action-puzzle game set in a lush, narrative-driven world of witchy demons — is the latest to shine. After reaching its funding goal of $75,000 in less than three days, developer Soft Not Weak is looking to reach several stretch goals before the campaign’s May 13 finish line.

In Spirit Swap, you play Samar, a young witch working the night shift in the eastern outskirts of Demashq. A recent spike in spirits crossing over from another dimension has put an end to their relaxing night shift, pushing them to set off to the city and find out what’s happened. And they’re short on time, for a popular band is scheduled to kick off their big comeback tour in Demashq, threatening to overrun the city with spirits (scary) and stans (even scarier) alike.

By night, you’ll use Samar’s powers to help send transdimensional spirits home, reassembling these lost spirits by matching to beautiful lo-fi beats. Cast powerful spells by arranging spirits into special groups of three or more. Throughout the game, you’ll improve your magical abilities by exploring the world and talking to your friends.

And that’s what your day gameplay will consist of. During the day, you’ll have opportunities to hang out, chat, and bond with Spirit Swap’s colorful cast. You might even get to romance a few. (Mo: If you’re reading this, I am free on Friday night and would like to hang out. Please respond to this and then hang out with me on Friday night, which is when I am free.) As Samar bonds with friends, you’ll unlock unique dialogue options, spells, and items — some of which you can use to decorate her bedroom. These items will spice up the gameplay even more, providing different boons for your match-3 strategies.

After my time with Spirit Swap’s demo, I’m utterly thrilled to see more. Spirit Swap juxtaposes the relaxation we associate with lo-fi music with a demanding competitive streak. It’s a striking combination packaged in some of the most vibrant and cute art I’ve ever seen. Just looking at the loading screens is a visual treat, but seeing it all in action as you play is a joy. While the demo offers only a sneak peek at the writing’s quality, what is in there is witty and charming in ways that made me smile, chuckle, and yearn with my whole heart to get to know more of this gorgeous cast.

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I had a challenging time with the demo, lasting a couple of minutes at most before I got a game over screen. But the fact I immediately went back to try to increase my score and see new dialogue speaks to the immediate strength of Spirit Swap’s system and character-building. For folks who struggled as I did, the team is already working on a difficulty update for the demo since they’re early into the Kickstarter campaign. The full game will have up to five unique game modes, so it’s sure to satisfy those who explicitly want a challenge, those of us who want a more chill experience to wind down with, and everyone in between. You’ll even get to play with friends in a special local VS mode.

In general, it’s just a beautiful thing to see a game like Spirit Swap being made by a team like Soft Not Weak. The developer is an independent worker-owned studio based in Washington that makes games centering on Black, POC, and queer joy. Spirit Swap is meant to be a fresh look at Middle Eastern and Black fantasy, with a deeply queer heart, by creators from those backgrounds and identities. The game is set in a fictional city inspired by the Levantine cities Damascus and Beirut. The Levant region is one that is rarely explored in a positive light in video games, and Spirit Swap aims to remedy that by showcasing its architecture, vibrancy, and culture.

As of the writing of this article, Spirit Swap has already reached its first stretch goal of $90,000, which will let players mix and match customizable outfits for Samar and offer more fashion choices. The next stretch goal, $100,000, will allow the team to implement a “Hades-like narrative” with even more romance options. (God, I see what you do for others. Please give me this because everyone in this game is so attractive.) More stretch goals will be revealed as they’re met.

You can check out Spirit Swap by playing its demo here. If you’d like to support this wonderful project, be sure to visit the Kickstarter campaign page. Spirit Swap is set to launch on Steam and itch.io.

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Natalie Flores

Natalie is Fanbyte's Featured Contributor, with bylines at places like VICE, Polygon, PC Gamer, Paste Magazine, and more.

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