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Swarm Review

Describing Swarm by its core mechanics would leave most people rather puzzled. The game takes very clear inspirations from the Lemmings titles, in that you control a group of creatures that act as a single unit and you have to make use of their abilities to make it to the end of the levels. The similarities end there, however. The Swarm controls are far more dynamic and you are not limited to the number you start with. There’s virtually no narrative to speak of in Swarm; this is a game that is all about the gameplay, which offers up more depth than you might initially think.

In Swarm, you can control anywhere up to fifty swarmites which are spawned at the beginning of the level. Just think of blue flubber with arms and legs and that’s a swarmite. The goal for every level is simple: get as many points as you possibly can by gathering various different types of items that give you points and increase your overall multiplier. There are eleven standard levels and two separate bosses. Once you meet the required score for each level, you can replay them with an added overall time multiplier which will gradually deteriorate over the course of the level. This structure means that hitting the score requirements for some levels can be very difficult on a first attempt, but afterwards is when the real fun begins.

Your blue horde has various tricks up their sleeves. You can bunch them together to traverse narrow areas and you can disperse them to collect the pellets that are spread out. They can also stack on top of each other to reach higher places, you can move them in short bursts of speed and they can also jump. Throughout the levels you will have to make use of all their abilities, and knowing when to use what is the key to scoring as high as possible and keeping them alive. The combos and overall multiplier need to be taken into account when going for high scores. There are various traps set up in the levels to kill off you swarmites and you need to keep as many alive as possible to keep a steady combo. However, if all your swarmites die at once, your combo will reset to zero and put you back to the last checkpoint. The wildcard here is that you can kill them intentionally to keep your combo going. This makes things very interesting in the longer levels as it’s quite easy to accidentally kill off your entire swarm, but it’s not so easy that it becomes really frustrating. Swarm manages to hit a very exact balance here.  

Swarm offers up an incredibly large amount of replay value if you’re willing to learn the ropes. Make no mistake, getting the top scores is something that won’t happen right away; you’re going to need to put in some time to learn the levels and what is coming next. What makes Swarm great is that it really doesn’t take long to learn these things and it’s the desire to get that perfect run that keeps you coming back. Collecting every pellet, getting every bonus, keeping as many swarmites alive as possible while killing the necessary ones, not letting your combo reset and doing this as fast as possible. This makes for an insane mix of things to keep track of while the pressure of failing is constantly rising the further into the level you get.

Swarm is just a very well-made game. The intentions of the designers are evident in every level and they each have their own unique rhythm and pace as well as a clear strategy for obtaining the highest score. This game is intended for score junkies, but you don’t have to master everything to have a good time playing it. The levels present a fair challenge and if you want to make them harder by playing for a score, you’re free to do so. Above all else, the game is just fun to pick up and play, and whether you like to take games like these to their limits or just enjoy the ride, there’s plenty to enjoy in Swarm.



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