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Spirit Swap's endless demo will eat your entire day

Also the magic demons are hot

Have you ever planned to do a bunch of personally improving stuff on a Sunday morning like go for a walk down to the old pier or read 30 pages of an extremely political sci-fi book about aliens made of wool, but what you do instead is sit on the sofa playing an aggressively monetised mobile game while repeats of Modern Family run on the TV? For six hours, you do this, and eat your dinner feeling sick with unrealised potential.

Match-3 games are compulsive for a reason, and I don't have beef with them as a concept. I actually like them! But I don't like that to play a match-3 game I usually have to play a mobile game that wants me to spent money on Fairy Dollars so I can buy barrels of Explosive Wand Dust, making it easier to earn stars and incrementally furnish the Magic Toilet Goblin's bedroom, or whatever. It's the empty consumerism vibe of freemium mobile games that makes me feel like I've been eating the time-spending equivalent of junk food. Spirit Swap, which has a demo out now in the form of an endless mode, isn't that. It's beautiful, difficult, customiseable, and it'll swallow you time in a good way, not a faintly unsettling one.

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Spirt Swap's main loop is easy to understand. Playing as very cool witch Samar, you have a grid of different spell element spirits, endlessly filling from the bottom, and can swap any two horizontally adjacent spirits. Getting three or more of the same one in a line will vanish them from the grid and fill up your magic meter, which in turn powers you spells. These are cast by getting spirits into the right positions on the grid - a four square, for example, will let you cast a spell that wipes the top of the grid. In keeping with the games subtitle (Lofi Beats To Match-3 To) this is all accompanied by some very chilled out lofi beats, and you can adjust the speed and difficulty of your game as you see fit.

It has a complexity and an imagination that, in other match-3 games, you might see replaced with any number of interchangeable, artificial difficulty inducers: match next to the Giant Bum twice to wipe the bum and remove it from the board. Spirit Swap has embraced the easy to learn, hard to master element, and learning to push spirits into empty squares or drop them into cleared columns, or seeing how and where to create your spell configurations, is a pleasant head-melter. But if you just want to relax, you can.

Samar, a cool witch with a big hat, is listening to a walk through and playing a game of spirit swap match 3 in Spirit Swap

Not that the match-3 puzzle is all there'll be to Spirit Swap. The full game, when it releases 'soon', will be heavily story-driven. There's a whole cast of eldritch-yet-sexy-and-probably-gay characters, with detailed and often quietly funny character portraits, to get to know and play with. You can customise Samar's bedroom with decorations you earn through playing, but they and I get the distinct impression that there'll be more spells to learn and equip as you go

In other words, it gives a genre of puzzle game I like a new sense of purpose, fresh ideas, and a stamp of quality that makes it really appealing. Playing Spirit Swap makes you feel like you're doing something, even if it's just chilling out with the endless mode, rather than wasting time, and I'm looking forward to playing the real thing - whenever it's out.

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