Have you ever found yourself laughing as you watched someone or something die? Ok, ok, unless you are truly psychotic, the answer is probably no. Well, thanks to the miracle of video games and the good people at Hothead Games all of us can with the new downloadable game Swarm!
Now have you ever watched a flock of birds fly together or seen a school of fish swim? Isn’t it amazing to watch how coordinated they are as they move about? Well, the origins of this game came about from artificial intelligence research where a doctor wanted to see how a group of AI would work together to complete a task if no one was the leader. Now how that morphed into a swarm of well, blue big eyed and pot bellied ‘Swarmites’, I cannot say. Oddly enough, these little guys are cute in a non-creepy adult kind of way.
As I saw pics and vids of this game it made me think of past games like Pikimin (where you ARE the leader and tell them what to do) and Lemmings (where you would assign tasks to individual Lemmings). The difference Swarm has with both of these games is simple, you actually control the swarmies. At first blush, the controls seem simple. If you move the thumbstick in one direction, that is the direction they will all go. What you will quickly notice though is that they all don’t necessarily walk or run in that direction. Since they all have a mind of their own, I guess you could say that they wander in that direction to be more accurate. If you press the jump button, they all jump but not at the same time.
If you get the picture then you realize that as you go about controlling these little guys, they don’t all do what you want them to do exactly when you ‘order’ them to. You’ll stack them on top of each other for narrow bridges, spread them out to avoid explosions, or pack them all in tight to avoid a big obstacle. As you progress from level to level, you’ll have them throw bombs, break blocks, and so forth. Along the way, you’ll even fight a few bosses as you go through the 6-8 hour campaign that the game offers.
So, we’ve got all of these little blue Swarmites stranded on some hostile planet tasked with searching the landscape for DNA. With this DNA, the Swarmites hope that they can return to a huge tentacled blob that they all, I guess, came from. Oddly enough, you never actually hear them speak so what they actually call the blob is a mystery. That being said, you can and will hear them scream. As they search the landscape, traps, gates, pits, buzzsaws, fans, and other contraptions stand in their way of returning to the huge blob. The point of the game is to lead 50 of them through each level as quickly as possible and get at least one Swarmite through the level alive.
That’s right, you heard me. You are expected to sacrifice Swarmites for the greater good of one. If it makes you feel any better you have stations (or blue blobby looking mounds) throughout the level where you can replenish the swarm with up to 50 more Swarmites. Your incentive for doing so is for points. The faster you collect DNA, the higher your multiplier bonus. With each level having a score needed to open the next level, you’ll want to do as much as you can as fast as you can to top this score or top your previous high score. Even as you sacrifice Swarmites, the game presents you with awards for your sacrifice as it leads to the completion of the level. These awards are even so morbid as to grant larger medals for when a majority of the swarm dies within seconds of each other. That’s just plain sick.
Believe it or not, this death fest can be fairly addictive. The colorful little Swarmites oddly enough have a bit of personality to them as they brave these sinister traps. Furthermore, the cartoony graphics and splatter will manage to keep you coming back to each of the 10 different levels over and over again hoping that the Swarmites finally grant you that one jump or leap that gets you to that new scoring plateau.
At the end of the day, Swarm is a fun and addictive downloadable title with some solid replayability. The $15 price tag may seem a bit steep but I had a lot of fun with the game and it’s unique and original enough to keep you coming back for more. If you’re looking for something a little different but still very easy to just pick up and play, check out Swarm!
Swarm is incredibly addictive and has a great sense of humor, making it a very pleasant gaming experience.