“Sword & Sworcery” Shoots to the Top of the App Store

“Sword & Sworcery” Shoots to the Top of the App Store (photo)

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Chances are, if you’re a gamer or are following one on Twitter, the #sworcery hashtag’s shown up in your timeline. It refers, of course, to “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP,” the indie game just out for iPad.

A smidgen of indie developer insider buzz and in-the-know word-of-mouth preceded its release but, really, “Sword & Sworcery” was one of those games that you had to know about already to know about. Yet, despite its relative obscurity, it shot up to the #3 spot for paid apps for the iPad, with nothing to speak of in terms of marketing. One of the things that’s led to the viral, explosive success of “Sworcery” is the way it integrates Twitter. Nearly every scene or dialogue exchange can be tweeted, serving several different purposes. #Sworcery tweets tease those who don’t yet have the game, provide oblique hints for other players and reminds those who have completed it of what it was all like.

As the EP part of the name suggests, the game’s really a slim novella of an experience. Part of its charm is how it mixes Ye Olde English (as approximated by comics legend Stan Lee in the early issues of his work on Marvel Comics’ “Thor” ) with modern-day colloquialisms. Whether by design or by accident, that combo makes for hilarious, attention-grabbing tweets. For example, “Miraculously the sinister storm has lifted & glorious sunlight has returned to the realm so that’s totally awesome.” Or, “We Scythians loathe rainbows.”

Words make it sing, but it’s the aesthetic that make “S&S”‘ shine. Its expressionistic pixel art suggests the ideas of things, which adds to the hazy, lazy appeal of the gameplay. These dots mean a bird, those a deer, the ones over there assemble into a shadowy demon.

Gameplay-wise, the mechanics are light but enjoyable. There’s the occasional swordfight but, mostly, you walk around exploring and completing touch-based puzzles. Early on, you get acclimated to exploring the world with your fingertips and having it talk back to you in its own quirky, second-person voice. Rather than a game that dares players to conquer, “Sworcery” invites you to converse with it.

Such as it is, the conversation’s small talk but the best thing about “Sworcery” may be how, musically and visually, it encourages you to meander and take your time. Sure, the Scythian-the female warrior on an unspecified, “woeful errand”-has an overarching mission, but the player’s not prodded on in any real way. You’re going to see things on this quest. Go down that path and check out those graves. Oh, look, sheep! And you can shout out nearly everything you see on Twitter.

Underneath all of the aesthetics and gameplay is a great downtempo electronica soundtrack by Jim Guthrie, with just enough renaissance-fair flourish to keep it on message. The soundtrack itself is a meta-construct, too, video game music made from a video game (“MTV Music Generator,” as detailed here).

That fits for “Sworcery.” It’s a game full of its own self-consciousness and traffics in intellectual indulgences that pulls in Jungian dream theory, Conan the Barbarian references–the original Robert E. Howard books, thank you very much–and old-school NES games like the classic “Legend of Zelda.” But, every time you want smirk at its admitted preciousness , some undeniably cute animation or wry dialogue ping off your heartstrings. Like when the mystical Megatome book lets you read your canine companion’s thoughts, which go something like, “Bark, bark, bark. Sometimes I grow weary of barking all the time but a dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.”


Super-decompressed genre conventions (like the girl named Girl or sentences like “The wood-chopping woodsman chopped wood.”) and built-in social networking make it a game that creates its own collective subconscious. All of a sudden, people know that other people know about this game. Granted, it does so very willfully, which drains some of the charm out of it. Nevertheless, the elegant design and the unalloyed delight that “Sword & Sworcery” evinces about games, philosophy and music draws you in and grab hold.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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