Swarm the City: Prologue Review


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In video games, you almost always play as one of the 'good guys.' Heroes are fantastic but, sometimes, it would be nice to play as a villain and see what it feels like to have no goal but to destroy humanity. Swarm the City: Prologue may just deliver the bad guy experience you are looking for.

james-wainscoat-b7MZ6iGIoSI-unsplash.jpgIn video games, you almost always play as one of the 'good guys.' Heroes are fantastic but, sometimes, it would be nice to play as a villain and see what it feels like to have no goal but to destroy humanity.

Swarm the City: Prologue may just deliver the bad guy experience you are looking for.

Game Overview
Swarm the City: Prologue is a free game that, as the name suggests, covers only the early portions of a yet-to-be-fully-released game called Swarm the City: Zombie Evolved.

More specifically, this game contains the first two chapters of the full game, making it a great way for you to feel the game's mechanics before committing to a purchase.

You play as Karr the Great, the zombies' dark lord who humans once defeated after wreaking havoc on the human land and turning half of humanity into zombies. Now a few hundred years later, taking advantage of the fact that humans no longer think that Karr the Great is real, he reawakens. Resurrected once more, Karr reignites his goal of making all humans zombies so he can rule the world.

Overall Gameplay
The game has a simple navigation mechanic. You can move the camera by dragging your mouse cursor to one of the screen's corners. To zoom in or out, use the mouse scroll.

To infect humans and turn them into zombies, initially, you pass a virus onto human targets, slowly killing and turning them. Infecting humans costs mana, so you should wisely pick which human to infect. You regain mana for every infected human.

If normal zombies can't handle the enemies, you can rely on a general as a powerful incarnation equipped with thicker skin and special skills. As of now, there are two types of general: Flamewalker and Amolgadon. Flamewalkers have the power of fire, whereas Amolgadons can absorb dead zombies and have the ability to turn objects into weapons. With the full game, you will be able to unlock more generals.

Unlike conventional zombies, the zombies in this game obey their lord, you. You select and control zombies, or you can command only the zombie underlings (zomblings) or generals. Zombies can attack not only humans but obstacles such as fences and walls to open paths. Zombies can approach buildings to search for more humans. Additionally, you can strategize an offensive plan by left-clicking any human and see their stats to determine whether your army is strong enough to defeat them.

Pros of Swarm the City: Prologue
I didn't expect this game to have a beautiful opening scene and voice acting, but I was wrong. The opening scene provides us with a comprehensive backstory of how the zombie lord comes into being. Granted, that's the only cinematic scene you'll get with this version.
The isometric, 2.5D graphic is also perfect for this kind of strategy game. The quality of the graphics and effects are good, even though they still need improvements, in my opinion. For instance, the attack animation for all zombies still feels clunky.
Since you're playing as a villain, the game gives you a unique experience. I didn't know how satisfying it would feel to witness humans running and helplessly fighting until I played this game. Swarm the City made me realize that I need to play games where I play the bad guy more often.
Last but not least, Swarm the City feels like a mobile game. This can be treated as a strength or weakness, so I debated whether to put this in the pros or cons section. Either way, if you're playing on a PC, there are no pop-up ads so you can relax.
Cons of Swarm the City: Prologue
Swarm the City is an early access game, so we can expect it to need considerable improvements still. However, I honestly didn't foresee the game to be this 'early access', if you catch my drift.

The AI often does stupid things, like staying in place and not attacking. It feels off seeing humans not helping their comrades or not run away when they see a zombie close by.
There is too much emphasis on the overall mood with a lack of micromanagement. You can choose a large area full of zomblings and generals and direct them where to go. That's it. They can do whatever they want, be it attacking or picking objects.
Once in combat, the zombies don't listen to you. Theoretically, you can cancel the most recent command. But even then, they will keep charging ahead per the initial order. Mindless charging might be intentional, but I don't see a point in putting the cancel button there in the first place if that's the case.
Sometimes, you can't specifically target fences or walls to forge a new path, only general locations, though this doesn't always happen. This should be fixed in the full game as it hinders strategic offensive plans, like attacking from a distance.
The camera movement is clumsy and limited. This can produce a weird situation like, for example, my zombies may stray to the bottom of the map, and I can't go to them. The move or attack command doesn't work either. Before I discovered a camera workaround of moving far left or far right, I was quite frustrated.
The last issue I noticed is that the monologues, which serve as the tutorial, sometimes advance independently. It doesn't advance too quickly but is still annoying given that it skips ahead when you pause the game.
Final Verdict: 2.75 out of 5
Swarm the City is a game with an interesting premise. But, I can't say I would recommend this game to anyone just yet, due to the lack of strategic elements, not to mention bugs. Granted, this is hardly the full game, and you can expect the developers to listen to players and improve the game before its full release.

Swarm the City: Prologue is a free game. So, checking this game out might still be a good idea if you're into this type of genre.

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