I love adventure games. They’re probably my all time favorite game genre. When done right they are the most fun I’m capable of having. When done wrong they’re still an ok way to spend my time. Earthworms is so far an ok time.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this game. It is beautiful to look at for one thing. Each area looks like an actual painting. I haven’t done the research but it would not surprise me to find out that the backgrounds are all actual paintings that got digitized for this game. The gameplay is classically simple for adventure games. Clicking on an object in the game automatically performs the correct action. You don’t have to first “look” at an item then “pick up” or “use” the item, the game just does the correct action for you. The overall tone of the game is enjoyable, too. It combines themes of noir, horror, high science, and mythology into a sort of soup where each sip delivers hints of each flavor. As a very big fan of adventure games I’m enjoying my time.
Here are some not so great things, however. This game has been translated to english, but the translation isn’t always the best. Dialogues between your character and others are usually brief and to the point. This does add to the simplistic tones of the game, but when your questions or their answers are slightly off kilter from a normal conversation it can add some frustration.
Earthworms definitely has some frustrations. Daniel White, your character, is a bit psychic. He has visions when he looks at things sometimes. These visions are another way to help guide you to solutions to classic adventure game puzzles. When you look at something for the first time a still image appears which you can refer to whenever you want to afterwards. Later on you may get the same vision when looking at something else. This is supposed to be your hint that those things are connected somehow. The frustration comes from the fact that the game doesn’t refer you back to where you saw the vision first in any way. If you look at a boat oar on the first area of the island you’re on and get a vision of a flag at waving in the wind, for example, then 2 hours, 25 screens, and 10 puzzles later you get the same vision are you really going to remember that oar? Probably not. This means backtracking and looking at everything you’ve ever looked at again hoping Daniel will say or do something new. Knowing this now I’ve taken to writing notes about what I was looking at or doing when Daniel gets a new vision to refer to when it pops up again later. I’m not against having to do that at all. I’ve got notebooks with chicken scratch maps, or letter replace cyphers, or character’s alibis and whatnot all over my desk. This game just didn’t properly prepare me for that necessity before it was too late.
Should you play this game? I would say that if you aren’t already a really big fan of adventure games then no. There are tons of great adventure games out there that would be more perfect as an early foray into that genre. (Seriously message me on the discord and I can recommend a bunch on PC) If, however, like me you just can’t get enough adventure games then this one could satisfy you. It isn’t very long. I’m about 3 hours in and things seem to be wrapping up. There’s a demo on the eshop to try out and it’s currently $7.99 which isn’t a huge investment if you’re let down. I’m going to finish it for sure, but I can really see how this game just is really not a good fit for anybody hoping for a casual good time.
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