Robotic enemies are invading and it is up to you to take them out… stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Swarm may not necessarily have the most original narrative as far as video games are concerned, but that doesn’t mean that the virtual reality shooter is lacking in stylish flair. See, you won’t be running and gunning to take down your foes, but grappling and shooting your way around an open-environment, all whilst slowing down time to pick off foes and making sure you don’t fall to your demise down below.

Sounds wild, right? Well, I’m happy to report that it makes for a thrilling gameplay experience too, with the buzz of the action perfectly suiting the immersive nature of virtual reality.

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Swarm arms players with a pair of pistols that also act as grappling hooks, making them into some kind of Spiderman and Deadpool hybrid as they swing and leap their way across an array of open areas whilst unloading bullets upon the enemies that surround them. Mobility is the name of the game in this one, with a focus based on not only keeping yourself out of harm’s way but also at an advantageous position over your enemies to nail them with gunfire – it’s the only way you’ll survive their onslaught of wave-based attacks. Oh, and everything takes place from a huge height too, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t let gravity take over too much or you might find yourself splattered on the ground or as shark food…

“There’s just something so satisfying about zipping between grappling points and picking off enemies whilst maintaining momentum in the air.”

It might sound a little overwhelming, but it works REALLY well and makes for an exhilarating experience. There’s just something so satisfying about zipping between grappling points and picking off enemies whilst maintaining momentum in the air, with the slick flair of your movements really adding to the stylish vibe of the game. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said you’d feel like those superheroes, with Swarm certainly giving power to the player and making them feel like one heck of a badass. The fact that it all takes place in virtual reality just makes the experience all the more exciting.

It doesn’t stop at just grappling and shooting either, with new abilities introduced to the mix to give players even more of an upper hand over their foes. Bullet-time sees players slowing down time to get themselves out of difficult situations or catch enemies off-guard for example, whilst they’ll also be able to use a homing ability to quick-dash out of harm’s way or directly towards an enemy. New weapons are available across different stages too, with the increased power of your arsenal putting even more tricks up your sleeve whether attacking from up-close or afar. It all adds to the satisfying sense of chaos found in the game’s action, but also helps keep the gameplay varied to ensure that the shooting and grappling formula doesn’t grow old.

“The fact that it all takes place in virtual reality just makes the experience all the more exciting.”

The variety of levels helps keep Swarm’s experience fresh too, with twenty-five stages available in total that are spread across five different zones. Each of these brings with them different enemy types and hazards, so players will ALWAYS be kept on their toes – the end of zone boss fights especially stood out and will provide a stern test of both your shooting and grappling skills. The varied environments ensure that each world remains imaginative in design, with the likes of futuristic cities, strange deserts, and sea facilities all acting as enthralling areas to battle across. They all look great in-game too, with Swarm’s impressive cel-shaded art style adding a vibrant sense of style to the game’s aesthetic. I’ve ALWAYS been a fan of these kinds of visuals in virtual reality and it’s hard not to be impressed by how good everything looks.

Swarm does a good job of keeping its action engaging and addictive throughout, with the main campaign offering plenty of excitement right up until its conclusion. However, there wasn’t really a whole lot on offer to encourage me to come back for more post-completion. Sure, there are online leaderboards to chase scores in, but that has never really been my sort of thing. I’ll admit that there is a sense of replayability to be found in just how fun Swarm actually is to play anyway, but it would have been nice to have had a few more options in place to keep players coming back for more. Multiplayer is being worked on for the game though, and I’m REALLY excited to try that out…

“Swarm’s impressive cel-shaded art style adds a vibrant sense of style to the game’s aesthetic.”

It’s hard to complain too much though, because Swarm offers hours of entertainment anyway. It’s also a surprisingly comfortable experience to play through… I know I wouldn’t have expected constant swinging and air-based manoeuvres to feel too great for my stomach in virtual reality, but I didn’t suffer from a single moment of discomfort. It just works. Of course, there are additional comfort settings in place for those who haven’t quite got their full virtual reality bearings yet, but don’t let the idea of Swarm’s extreme gameplay put you off if you’re worried about nausea; the developer has done a great job in making it a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all kinds of virtual reality gamers.

9/10

Summary

Swarm offers a stylishly exhilarating shooting-and-grappling experience that works perfectly in virtual reality. There are plenty of thrills to be had as you face off in shoot outs against the hordes of foes hunting you down, whilst maintaining a balance of quick gunplay and momentous movements remains thrilling throughout – it really is a special game.

I’ll admit that I would have liked to have seen a few more game modes to add to the experience, but it’s hard to find anything to complain about. Swarm is just an absolute blast to play and I’m looking forward to seeing what the developer brings to the game in the future.

Developer: Greensky Games
Publisher: Greensky Games
Platform(s): Oculus Quest 2 (Reviewed), Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift
Click here to visit the official website.
Click here to watch the launch trailer.