Swashbuckler is a game of sword duels taking place on board a variety of ship settings. The player utilized the keyboard to move back and forth, to move the position of his sword up and down, and to thrust or block. It was considered to be very graphically attractive for its time. The gameplay was pure arcade, as the objective was to achieve a high score with each kill counting for one point.
The human enemies attacked from two directions, approaching the player, who could only attack and defend in one direction at a time, from in front and from behind. The swashbuckler was forced to constantly swivel to meet the attacks; as his score increased, the game sped up and ultimately made defense impossible. After three hits, the player died and the game was over. Small animals such as rats, cobras, and scorpions complicated the challenge, as the player was forced to lower his sword to kill them and therefore expose himself to the attacks of the human enemies.
It was reviewed in the May-June 1982 issue of Computer Gaming World. Editor Russell Sipe noted: "Players of the game at CGW find the graphics to be supurb and the design somewhat unique (however, see Automated Simulations DRAGON'S EYE for another treatment of hi-res swordfighting). However the lack of variety causes the game to become tiresome after a few dozen kills." In the same issue, Swashbuckler was listed as the 15th ranked game (out of 27) in CGW's Reader Input Device #2 with a score of 6.58 out of 9.