‘Swarm’ Review: A Comically Over-The-Top VR Arcade Shooter

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Spider-Man meets John Wick in this high-flying arcade adventure from developer Greensky Games.

Available now on Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift headsets, Swarm is a vibrant, fast-paced VR arcade shooter tailor-made for the VR format. Whereas many VR games focus on replicating popular game mechanics and perpetuating tired cliches, Swarm does its very best to offer you a fresh take on the VR arcade genre. And in this regard, Swarm succeeds with flying colors.

Whether you’re a fan of classic arcade shooters, quality grapple mechanics, or comically over-the-top storylines, Swarm has a little something for everyone.

THE GAMEPLAY

Swarm has you taking on the role of a high-flying badass tasked with saving the planet from an army of air-born mechanical foes bent on world domination. Thankfully, you’re equipped with a pair of futuristic pistols equipped with powerful grappling hooks capable of propelling you around your environment at incredible speeds.

Swarm features a total of 25 levels spread across five locales, each featuring its own unique theme and challenges. In some rounds, you’ll be tasked with eliminating a certain amount of enemies; other times you’ll simply need to survive a set period of time. Scattered throughout each of these areas are a series of yellow platforms you can grapple and swing from like Spider-Man; if Spider-Man carried around fully-loaded weaponry that is.

Image Credit: Greensky Games

Despite the fast-paced movement and sudden changes in direction, Swarm does a tremendous job at offering a comfortable web-slinging experience that’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. Speed and momentum are the names of the game as you coast from platform to platform while dodging incoming fire from a variety of homicidal machinery. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the enemies.

THE COMBAT

As you progress through each level, you’ll come across increasingly difficult enemies, from semi-threatening peashooters to massive drones armed with heat-seeking projectiles. One enemy I found particularly interesting was a massive mechanic snake that felt somewhat reminiscent of classic arcade games like Centipede. Other dangerous enemies include zombie bots which can be revived repeatedly over the course of each round, guardian bots capable of delivering powerful shields to other bots on the field, and devastating lasers, just to name a few. Each section ends in a unique boss battle against a different mechanical monstrosity.

Image Credit: Greensky Games

Thankfully, you’ll have access to a variety of powerful weaponry throughout your bullet-soaked adventure. In addition to your limitless dual pistols, you’ll unlock access to five other guns scattered throughout various levels, from heat-seeking missiles and crippling laser cannons to powerful shotguns and other unique projectiles.

In addition to your weapons, you’ll unlock powerful abilities designed to keep you alive on the battlefield. ‘Slow-mo,’ for example, lets you slow down time so you can line up your shots in the heat of combat. ‘Zip,’ on the other hand, allows you to quickly jump to a specific area on the map. This can be a literal lifesaver whenever you find yourself getting dangerously low on the map. You can even zip directly into enemies for a quick kill. You can recharge these abilities by grappling onto platforms and performing tricks like gaining a certain amount of altitude or “scraping” the bottom of the map.

Image Credit: Greensky Games

THE OVERALL

From the expertly crafted grappling mechanics to the fast-paced gunplay and engaging visuals, Swarm is easily one of the most addicting VR arcade games currently available on headsets. In an industry fraught with overtly serious military shooters, Swarm offers a refreshing change of pace with its comical storyline, vibrant color patterns, and its ludicrous arsenal of weaponry.

Similar to how classic Atari games such as Centipede and Asteroids helped set the stage for a new generation of games, Swarm could very well represent a turning point in the VR arcade genre. Moving forward, Greensky Games plans on introducing multiplayer support, which I’m extremely curious to learn more about.

Image Credit: Greensky Games

My only complaint is in regards to level design. Other than a different backdrop and a few map modifiers, such as a swinging pendulum and rotating mining lasers, each of the five stages offer more or less the same experience. It would have been nice to see a bit more variety between each of the sections, though this lack of diversity does not impact the game’s overall replayability.

Swarm is available now on Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift headsets for $24.99 with support for cross-buy. A SteamVR release is scheduled for Summer 2021.

*This review was conducted using an Oculus Quest 2. Review copy provided by Greensky Games.*

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p class=”has-text-align-center”>Feature Image Credit: Greensky Games

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