[Review] NecroWorm – Nintendo Switch

Written by Abbi Smith
  • Developer: Post Punk Games
  • Publisher: Walkabout Games
  • Release Date: 26/03/2020
  • Price: £4.49 / $4.99
  • Review code provided by Walkabout Games

Introducing: NecroWorm Switch Review

Do you ever wonder how a hungry, undead worm occupies his free time? Well, wonder no more! NecroWorm is a creepy little puzzler that provides an answer to that question, as well as plenty of nostalgic Snake vibes, with a little less haste!

Sometimes, the Best Story is No Story

Normally, a lack of story can be a real down-side in games, but I’ve found that too much focus on a detailed story can often detract from the joyous simplicity of puzzle games. Sometimes, it’s nice to play a game where you’re doing things “just because.” NecroWorm’s story is the following: you’re an undead worm and you’re hungry. That’s it. No complicated background, no range of characters with specifics you need to remember. All you’re doing is guiding your hungry little worm around a grid, gobbling up everything while trying not to eat your own tail. 

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master!

NecroWorm’s simple but effective design will have any 90s kid recalling playing Snake on an old Nokia phone! Your undead worm is dropped on a grid, with a selection of food items and obstacles scattered around. Using either the control stick or the D-pad, you have to guide the worm around the grid to eat all of the food items without running into any obstacles, or pulling an Ouroboros and eating your own tail! There are no extra skills or complications which keeps the game easy to play in a short amount of time, or to pick back up when you haven’t played for a while.

Thankfully the worm doesn’t move automatically, so you have plenty of opportunity to plot a route properly, but do be wary! The worm will sometimes slide an extra square if you don’t release the direction quickly enough, which ruined my plan more than a couple of times. The timer can add a sense of urgency, which makes mistakes more likely, but I honestly couldn’t tell whether it was time or moves that affected my final scores so it may not be necessary to worry about.

The majority of the time, this simplicity works in NecroWorm’s favour. However, due to the limited variation you can really achieve with such basic mechanics, it gets very repetitive very quickly. Unfortunately, I never found myself eager to play “just one more level” because it got very same-y very quickly. The levels themselves were laid out differently, and the obstacles I faced were different, but nothing really inspired me to carry on playing.

Dark and Dingy is the Name of the Game

The aesthetic for NecroWorm feels very well balanced; suitably dark, but never so much that you can’t see what you’re doing. The worm’s design is plain old creepy and gross; he almost gloops along the grid, smacking his chops as he swallows down skulls and all manner of disgusting-looking “food.” A far cry from my usual style, I nevertheless found it fitting and would have been disappointed if the graphics were cuter. I like a cutesy pastel or vibrant palette normally, but I think that would have detracted from the suitably spooky vibe of NecroWorm.

The appropriately dank and dismal appearance, from menu to gameplay, is wonderfully lightened by the Addams Family-esque menu music and oddly bouncy soundtrack. Haunting sound effects, such as the worm’s creepy snaffle noise and howling winds working their way through the crypts, add a real depth of character to the world, despite it being such a basic setup.

A Well-Balanced Challenge

I’m a huge fan of a good puzzle game, and absolutely love a game that gives me a good challenge. NecroWorm, while not the most attention-grabbing game, did provide an excellent challenge. I’m still unsure as to how the scoring system works, and whether the odd square-slide was intentional, but I can’t fault the difficulty balance. It was a very simple game for me to grasp, but getting all three stars from in level was already becoming a challenge by the time I hit level twenty, and there are 120 levels in total! 

Like most logic-based games it was, while enjoyably difficult, relatively easy to complete the level once I’d figured out the required strategy. Rush in head-first and you’ll find yourself trapped in a corner before long. I managed that a few times due solely to the square-sliding, where I’d be moving a specific number of squares and accidentally slip one further, normally into a position that I couldn’t escape from.

Despite the unusual sliding, NecroWorm performed beautifully in both handheld and docked mode. Everything was easy to see, what little reading was required never felt like an optician’s test, and I didn’t notice a single performance hiccup. I also ran it on my Switch Lite, as sometimes games don’t take into consideration the even smaller screen, and I can confirm that it still looked as wonderfully creepy despite the downsizing.

All In All – Simple but Fun

NecroWorm is enjoyable in its simplicity, but the understandable lack of variation meant it didn’t really keep me interested in progressing. For some that may not be an issue, but I’ve played so many puzzle games that I can start to lose interest quickly and often, like with NecroWorm, it’s a shame. I adored the quirky and creepy graphics, along with the bouncy soundtrack, but they weren’t quite enough to keep me coming back. I do praise the game for the lack of story, though. I think a story would have ruined what this game is aiming for; simple enjoyment, without unnecessary complications and hindrances. For the price? Definitely a bargain.

Pros

  • Lack of story reduces complication
  • Simple mechanics
  • Enjoyably creepy graphics and soundtrack
  • Ran like a dream

Cons

  • Odd sliding meant puzzles were easy to mess up
  • Didn’t really grab my attention or make me want to keep playing

Verdict
A simple game, NecroWorm is a delightfully creepy little puzzler that, while enjoyable, didn’t really hook me.
4/5

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