Swarm Arena puts a unique spin on the arena shooter, but is far too short on content.
In general, the word swarm is usually applied to things that you wouldn’t want to get close to – wasps, locusts, zombies… yet in Swarm Arena, the brightly glowing swarm is your friend, and key to survival.
You’ve never played an arena shooter like this before, and there’s some great tactical fun to be had. There’s a solid amount of variation in play, but an awful lack of content bring the experience down somewhat.
Swarm Arena sees you taking control of a neon organism, floating around in an enclosed space and fighting other organisms to stay alive. A swarm of worm-like creatures litter the arena, and you’ll need to collect them all up and harness their power. Your organism has a circle of influence surrounding it, and any swarm creatures which enter the circle will fall under your control.
Your swarm can then be made to fire off in all directions, or swirl around you like a shield, depending on which power-ups you grab. Other organisms will do the same, using swarms of their own colour to attack you. Hit an enemy with your swarm and they explode, spawning more powerful enemies for you to attack.
It’s a clever concept, in that technically you’re not doing the attacking – rather, you are an army general, sending your troops out to battle. Your swarm will die if it collides with enemy swarms, so you’ll need to carefully plan your attacks and make your swarm surge forward at the appropriate moment. Compared to your average arena shooter, Swarm Arena provides a great spin on the genre.
There’s plenty of variety in game modes. ‘The Path’ is your go-to for campaign-style missions, from survival games to score-beating tasks. There are also fights against clever AI bots, which learn how you play and attack your weak spots. Beating these is the greatest challenge the game offers, and it’s incredibly satisfying to overcome them.
A sandbox mode is available for simply messing around with your powers. The fact that this mode is so much fun illustrates how great Swarm Arena feels to play. There’s a wonderful feel to the movement of your organism and the surrounding swarm, and the glowing visuals look fantastic, if not a little too similar to popular shooter Geometry Wars.
There are also two player battles available, which are by far the most entertaining element of the game. Trying to outsmart a computer opponent is one thing, but taking on another human player is where the real tactics come into play. Unfortunately, the multiplayer is local only – there is no online multiplayer, which is such a missed opportunity. Hopefully this will be added in later updates.
While the game is good, solid fun, there is a huge issue with the amount of content on offer. You’ll be able to see everything the game has to offer within a good hour of play, and achieve 100% completion within another hour. It’s far too short, and really there’s no excuse for not adding more levels to the mix.
This is ultimately Swarm Arena‘s downfall – you’ll pick it up, have a blast for an hour or two, and then never go back to it. Online multiplayer and added content would have saved this but as it is, it’s an awkward title to fully recommend.
If you’re on the hunt for a unique arena blaster, Swarm Arena may be exactly what you’re looking for – just don’t expect it to last very long.