New Game Review

Review – Earthworms (Switch)

Harvested a bit too soon.

Earthworms is the latest point-and-click adventure by Polish company All Those Moments. Playing as the role of private investigator Daniel White, you are summoned by an odd man to help locate a missing woman. Deep into your investigation, you begin to discover that there are other abnormal activities partaking, mainly involving earthworms, hence the title of the game. I’ve had my fair share of fun, satisfaction and laughs with previous point-and-click titles, and though there are some elements here that bring me back to the day, Earthworms feels more like an obligation.

earthwormsroom
Something about how this looks doesn’t feel right to me.

The graphics simply don’t do it for me, and I know my reasons are nit-picky ones that many will disagree with, but I feel the game’s attempt at the film-noir feeling falls short. Certain areas feel rushed, the lifeless expressions on everyone’s face are unintentionally unsettling and certain tasks feel like a chore because items you need aren’t drawn with importance and feel like background filler. Even the text box and loading screens feel copy/paste-like. It’s difficult to put into words, but I was weirded out by how everything looked to me.

The mechanics of a point and click adventure game are simple: You point where you want to go, and click. You point at which object you want to observe or pick up, you click. While that’s simple enough, there are three things about how it’s presented here in Earthworms that again fall short of the bar. For starters, I personally don’t feel point and clicks should be console based and that it makes more sense to be PC only, as you have more liberty with the mouse to move the cursor at your preferred speed. Here, the cursor doesn’t move fast enough for my liking and it can’t be altered as the Options menu is jokingly bare minimum. Secondly, I was disappointed that there wasn’t an actions menu at the bottom like most point and clicks would. Use, push, pull, open, etc.; these options opened up the game for more content and outcomes. Here, not only is the game scripted and reliant on order sequence, but simply clicking on the object fulfills the requirement, which feels like the game is holding your hand. And lastly, there is a mechanic in the game that magnetizes you cursor over items in order to direct the player to objects of importance. The problem here is that when I’m scanning the area or trying to fixate my cursor on one point, the game insists on constant attraction to something different, which was very bothersome.

earthwormsgoodwriting
Ugh, this writing. 

The sound and music are a stronger part about Earthworms, but yet again show inconsistencies. The background music fittingly changes given the area and certain areas are actually very musically impressive. Item usage and interactions are crisp, audible and authentic, with one very major exception: the walk cycle. Sounding like the protagonist is walking around in shoes filled with a mixture of wet and dry cat food, it is an infuriating sound to deal with for the game’s entirety. I considered turning the volume completely off because I was that agitated by it, but fearing I would miss out on any audible cues, I felt obligated to battle my demons. There is no voice acting, so by default that’s a miss. The dialogue is quite painful in its forced attempts to be edgy and funny, coming off awkward and unnecessary. Also, there will be times where you are engaged in conversation and you will only be given one thing to say as an option, multiple times in a row, too. Why make it a chore to select what you are going to say if you are  only given one thing to say?

earthwormsseriouslygoodwriting
THE WRITING.

As far as the fun factor goes, you’re best off on relying on how interested you are in solving puzzles, because every single character in the game is literally a moss covered log devoid of any personality. The conversations are mundane, boring and simplistically written; resulting in a story I have little to no interest in. If you can put all the gripes aside, admittedly there are moments where the game requires you to really think about item usage and combinations, not to mention some thought provoking puzzles.

earthwormsweird text
This feels rushed.

Overall, the feel of the game as a whole just didn’t click with me, and knowing that the game is short obligated me into sticking it out for the whole adventure. When I mean short, I mean it. This game took me two and a half hours to get the good ending. It doesn’t feel complete and it doesn’t bode well with me. Games back then like Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max: Hit the Road and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis were games of my childhood that not only had impressive graphics (for the time), quirky and charismatic characters and an awesome soundtrack, but the game definitely felt more broad and took the player a lot longer than two and half hours to finish. Again, there are some things about this game that tickle my nostalgic bone, but for the most part, Earthworms needs to be put back under ground, watered, and given more time to grow into something better.

twoandahalfhourslater
I’ve had my fair share of success with point-and-clicks, but two and a half hours is ridiculous.

 

Graphics: 5.0

The whole attempt at the film-noir feel falls way short and feels unsettling to look at.

Gameplay: 5.0

Keep point and clicks on PC. The handle and feel on a console joystick feels slow and problematic.

Sound: 7.0

While the music and item interactions are crisp and pleasant, the walk cycle sound is a definite trigger.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Bland, uninspired story and driftwood characters overwhelm moments of thought provoking puzzles.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Earthworms is available now on PC and Switch.

A copy of Earthworms was provided by the publisher.

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