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Escape the Virus: Swarm Survival

by Nate Andrews - July 2, 2012, 9:07 am PDT
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Not always worth surviving.

Escape the Virus: Swarm Survival puts you in the role of a lone, mobile piece of DNA (with a large eyeball), though only half of the game does anything meaningful with the scenario.

Swarm Survival's main mode has you moving the cartoony portion of DNA around a large, rectangular space to collect other floating pieces of genetic material while avoiding virus bits and collecting power-ups. As you move over the pieces of DNA, they fall in line behind you, eventually forming a dozens-strong chain. Your score for an individual game is based on the number of DNA pieces you collect (each of which adds a certain point value and an increased multiplier to your growing total), as well as how long you survive in the limited space.

Swarm Survival's overhead perspective, gameplay speed, and precise movement create an arcade-style experience reminiscent of the Geometry Wars games, but it's mostly short on their challenging and empowering gameplay, and has several odd design quirks. The view of your controlled DNA piece on the top screen is zoomed in by default, cutting off an invaluable view of the constantly shifting lay of the surface. To pull the camera out to a strategically beneficial height, you have to keep a finger glued to the one of the shoulder buttons—a small but baffling and inconvenient hang-up. Your DNA piece can also jump to leap over a virus, but the ability has little practical use and usually just gets in the way.

The game's main mode is hindered by the necessity to gather and lead the DNA pieces. There is a certain limit to what you can accrue before part of your line inevitably run into a virus piece, sending the cute little bits of DNA flying and whining, Baby Mario-like, for you to collect once more. As a result, the mode never goes far; there's scant strategy, and little to grab onto before you've lost the lives you start with and reached the logical limit of what you can accomplish.

"Baby" mode, on the other hand, replicates the short-term strategy and frantic decision making that this kind of limited engagement game benefits from. The objective differs from the first mode: Instead of simply creating a trailing line of DNA fragments, your piece gathers them inside itself, growing larger and slower with each ingested bit. At any time you can return to a safe bay at the bottom of the screen and deposit the gathered DNA, gaining points and slimming to your normal, faster size. 

Baby mode's simple objective, controls, and consequences set it apart from the directionless chaos of the main activity; there's a strategy in deciding just how much you think you can ingest and still evade the growing virus horde. It's not substantially deeper than the normal mode, but it is quite a bit more fun.


  • Baby mode is a good balance of strategy and chaos
  • Normal mode lacks any meaningful objective, and ends quickly
  • The default camera position limits the view of the field
  • The jump mechanic and power-ups have little effect during play

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Genre Strategy

Worldwide Releases

na: Escape the Virus: Swarm Survival
Release Jun 28, 2012
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