Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
The old adage “looks can be deceiving” is often used when describing certain video games. Sometimes they look one way but end up being the complete opposite. Well, that term certainly can be used to describe Hothead Game’s latest release, Swarm. This action-puzzle game certainly looks cute and charming, but once you start playing, it delivers a game that is quite challenging and will really test your patience.
The premise behind Swarm goes something like this: you have a group of swarmites that need to gather DNA in order to feed their mother so that she can take control of the planet they have landed on. You goal is to keep the group of 50 swarmites together, collect items and traverse through the various levels to reach the end. It sounds simple enough at first, but getting to the end of a stage is just half the battle. In order to advance through the game, not only do you need to collect the various DNA strands in each stage, but obtain the requested point requirement for each level. This is done by finding DNA, collecting items, sacrificing swarmites, defeating foes and achieving the highest possible combo.
While the premise is simple, the execution is where frustration begins. The goals for each level are usually quite high, so obtaining big combos is an absolute must. Combos are obtained by constantly performing the required actions such as collecting items scattered throughout each level. Because of this, you will need to try to juggle a lot of what is going on to keep your multiplier growing. Unfortunately, the challenges that get in the way do make this very difficult to maintain. Obstacles such as enemies, electric fences and large gaps are all there to make keeping that combo growing even more difficult.
Controlling the Swarm is pretty straight-forward: your triggers are used to disperse or gather the swarmites together. In some situations, you will need to spread them apart to cover a larger area and collect items but in other situations, they must be packed tightly in order to advance through a certain section.
Deviating from those two positions happens in two situations: when wanting to reach high ground and/or objects or the need to jump. For the latter, a simple click of the “A” button will have the swarm jump in tandem. But in order to reach higher items, you still use the same button, but hold it so the swarm can stack up on each other to create a pyramid. This context sensitive button press can cause problems at times. If trying to build upwards, the slightest move of the control stick can cause the swarm to fall, in most cases, to their deaths.
Swarm doesn’t hide the fact that it is a difficult game, in fact, it actually has a reward system in place based on the number of swarmites you kill in each level and how they die. The problem though is that because death is always a certainty, unless you get to a level’s check-point, all the points you could have achieved are lost. With that realization, expect to play a level more than once before reaching the required point total. Not once did I manage to complete a level and obtain the necessary score the first time through. You will always have to play a level at least one time, learn all its secrets and bonus items, then play through it a second or third time in order to get a high enough score.
For those who love challenges, this level of difficulty will certainly test you and the end result is quite satisfying. Unfortunately, the number of people who want a truly challenging game is small and most casual gamers will lose interest quickly. This is especially apparent during the game’s boss battles. These are extremely difficult and daunting as they require you to use a number of the techniques; there is a lot of trial and error and unless you have the patience or are willing to accept playing a level over and over again, chances are, you won’t play long after that.
Visually, Swarm excels and falters throughout the game. The various environments, while intentionally dark, can be a bit confusing at times. Since you will need to focus your attention on the swarm, you can easily miss the traps that lie ahead. For the most part, the level designs are really well done and there is a lot of variety in them. Thankfully, there are also a fair amount of secrets paths and alternate courses that do look cool when you discover them.
Audio-wise, the game’s soundtrack does fit the tone and bonus points are given to all the various sound effects that made when your swarmites perish. There is a really nice mix of squishing, crunching and other odd sounds and even when dealing with the constant deaths, it’s still quite favorable to the ears.
Swarm is a tough game to judge. The difficulty is without a doubt the biggest hurdle someone must overcome when playing. It takes a while before feeling comfortable and even then, the challenge doesn’t ease up. For those who want a real test and love games that reward persistence and repetition, Swarm delivers. If you’re looking for fun and painless experience, this is not the game for you.
- Various ways of tackling each stage
- Combo system does allow for creativity and the push for a high score does entice replay a level
- Excellent Sound Effects
- Not geared towards the casual gamer
- Expect to replay the same level a few times before progressing
- Tough Boss battles
- Context sensitive situations do pose some problems
- Camera perspective can sometimes make seeing things a bit more difficult
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Release Date : 2011/03/23
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ignition Entertainment
Developer : HotHead Games
Category : Platformer
ESRB : T
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