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Adorable Death - Swarm Preview
Hothead Games is currently working on a colorful, vibrant, and humorous action platformer for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Set to launch soon via digital download, Swarm puts you in control of 50 little creatures called Swarmites, and it is your job to guide them to victory in each of the game’s 12 levels. Though fairly simple in its design, Swarm looks like a competent and capable platformer with minor strategy elements that should appeal to gamers who enjoy quirky and comedic games.
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Help the Swarmites
The main characters in this downloadable game are the Swarmites, and you play as this race of cute yet completely ridiculous creatures. It seems the Swarmites have landed on a planet full of dangerous monsters, explosives, and falling obstacles. They must collect DNA and return to their leader Mama, a giant blue Swarmite with tentacles. The story in Swarm isn’t very deep with complex plot twists and overly detailed narrative; it basically gives you a motive to get you going.
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You guide the Swarmites through the game’s levels to reach Mama, avoiding traps, enemies, and death along the way. You can rest assured that there will be plenty of hazards in your path attempting to deter you from your goal, and ultimately kill all of your Swarmites. As you progress through levels, you come across poisonous gas, spikes, pitfalls, bombs, and other perils meant to act as roadblocks to your success. While all of the Swarmites run together, you have certain commands at your disposal to bunch them closer together, spread them apart, enter pipes, and even pick up objects. The Swarmites can also dash, climb, and flip switches.
Unfortunately, the little blue creatures are a bit on the dim side, and they often separate and attempt to take matters into their own hands. One moment they’ll stray far from the rest of the group, the next they’ll inadvertently toss one of their own right into a dangerous object like a bomb or spikes. As you’ve probably figured out by now, Swarmites are somewhat disposable, and you’re bound to lose more than a few in each stage. As a matter of fact, there are moments where sacrificing Swarmites is necessary. Collecting DNA as well as killing Swarmites brings up two things: a score multiplier and countdown clock. Collecting more DNA and killing more Swarmites increases the multiplier, thus raising your score. So as you can see, the expendability of the Swarmites depends on the high scores you want to reach. Luckily, you’ll come across checkpoints that award you with more Swarmites.
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The Swarmites' Personalities
Part of what makes Swarm such a fun experience is the group of Swarmites. Their mortality coupled with the fact that they are just not very bright often results in hilarious deaths. Seeing them get smashed by heavy objects or watching them get blown up is highly tragicomic. But the moments when they bring death upon themselves are the most memorable. If you instruct them to toss certain objects in a specific direction, for example, they may accidentally throw one of their own. This is due to their dimwitted nature, which makes for some ridiculously funny results.
The camera is placed far from the action during the majority of the game, but you can zoom in and see the expressions of the Swarmites as they get killed, toss each other around, lose their balance, or simply perform the desired task. This is a nice touch considering the Swarmites make the game as funny as it is.
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Swarm has an intricate stat system that literally tracks every death in the game. Not only that, but it tracks the cause of death as well. The game grants you with special Achievements and Trophies for your troubles, and there are even Death Medals that you can earn depending on the objectives you complete. The PlayStation 3 version of the game has a nice feature on the title screen that keeps a live tally of all Swarmite deaths as you – and every other player with the game – kills off the little blue critters.
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Swarm Preview - Help the Swarmites...and Kill Them Too
Swarm looks like a very interesting group-based platformer with plenty of quirky elements to keep it enjoyable and funny throughout. In addition to the main game’s objectives, which will make for a 10-hour experience, leaderboard support should keep competitive players busy for quite some time. No release date has been confirmed, but expect Swarm to hit Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network within the coming months.