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Swarm Hands-On: A Great Mixture Of Swinging And Shooting

The latest arcade shooter has arrived on Quest, but with a swinging twist. Here are our impressions of Swarm, available now on the Oculus Store.

Swarm is a entertaining distillation of a few other elements we’ve seen in VR before. It’s got fantastic swinging mechanics for traversal, solid arcade gunplay and a wave-based enemy structure with hints of bullet hell. What makes the game fun is the intersection of all three, which (from what we’ve played so far) ensures that none of them outstay their welcome.

The swinging in Swarm reminds me of the basic-yet-immersive Spider-Man swinging WebXR experience I wrote about last year or, more recently, the swinging found in Yupitergrad.  Swarm takes some core elements from those and sizes it down into a punchier, goal-focused package. Swarm opts for relatively small arena-style levels, where you’ll be fulfilling a variety of different goals and splitting your focus between swinging around and shooting enemies — both of which you can do with either hand at any time.

Playing through the first zone (there’s five total), you get a feel for how each the levels will vary to keep them from getting stale — some focus on shooting as many enemies within a time limit, others on swinging and collecting gems without any enemies, and some are straight up boss fights. It’s a nice amount of change — enough to spice things up without changing the core premise too much between levels.

There’s some great additions in your traversal kit as well, which aid and assist your swinging. A zip feature slows down time and lets you target a grapple point or enemy, which you’ll then quickly zip toward. Targeting an enemy with zip with also kill them upon impact, making it a useful combat strategy for tougher foes. Likewise, you have a slow time ability (fueled by a meter that you fill by grappling around the map) that lets you focus on a few quick moving enemies or the hard-to-catch gold enemy that’s reminiscent of the snitch from Harry Potter.

Gameplay aside, it’s Swarm’s art style that really stands out in the first few minutes. We’re seeing more and more Quest games opt for a cell-shaded look — it’s stylish, trendy and, most importantly, a great way to optimize for performance while still looking visually clean. But Swarm really leans into the comic book aesthetic — the menus, the animated comic book panel cutscenes, all of it feels visually consistent and cohesive. It’s a great look that it pulls off well.

Overall, there’s a lot to love early on with Swarm. It’s perfect arcade fun that melds together with a few other elements to form an interesting new VR game. After playing through zone 1, we’re keen to see the rest.

Have you tried Swarm? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

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