Video games tend to fixate on life. You’re always acquiring lives, saving lives or taking lives. There’s a pragmatic nobility in all that, sure. But, pragmatism takes other forms, too. Like knowing when to sacrifice pawns in a game of chess.
Now, I’m not saying that “Swarm”–the new game from the people that delivered the hilariously brilliant “DeathSpank” last year–is like chess. In chess, you move one piece at a time. With Swarm, it’s a gaggle of 50 bright, blue Swarmites who do your bidding. You’ll need to shepherd them through hazard-filled levels to collect DNA and, no matter what you do, some of the poor bastards can’t making it home to their blue mommas. Even though Swarm gives out “death medals” for offing your minions you still need to finish the levels with at least one Swarmite alive.
The gameplay gets challenging and some of the puzzles will have you wanting to knock your head against a wall to shake out some extra smarts. But, the gleeful joy derived from either living through or dying through the game’s dangers will keep you glued to the controller.
“Swarm” is available for download on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live.