Friday, June 6, 2014

Feature Friday # 13 - Worm Run

Every Friday on our blog I’ll feature a game that’s doing something unique, innovative, and truly noteworthy. This isn’t just an app review; it’s an analytical look at a fresh game from the perspective of someone within the game industry. 


I feel like my last two posts have been fairly negative, so with June starting I’m turning over a new leaf. Great timing too, because the game I’m playing this week is awesome. That game is called Worm Run, and it’s an endless running/jumping/flying platformer that flat out crushes everything it sets out to. I’ve discussed endless runners before (and probably will again), but I don’t know that any of them have been as complete as Worm Run

The comparisons to Jetpack Joyride can’t be missed, nor should they. Halfbrick created one of the best endless-whatevers, and I don’t think I’m assuming too much in saying the game had some influence on Worm Run (you’re flying a jetpack after all…). That doesn’t take anything away from Worm Run, though, and in fact makes it even more impressive, since it improves on pretty much every aspect of an already great game. Instead of autorunning and only maintaining the character’s elevation in a control scheme that hasn’t changed since the early days of Flash, Worm Run puts you in total directional control of your doomed little flyer, apparently named Zeke. You can run forward and backwards as well as control your flying with directional swipes. I think the coolest part of all is that you have to constantly swipe to keep your speed up, turning games into a flurry of thumb-flying action. 

Worm Run is fast and really fun, and would be a pretty sweet platformer game on it’s own, where it takes an extra huge step, but also stumbles a little, is the chase. On an ever-changing map littered with Grubies (from the developer’s name - Golden Ruby), navigating the spikes, lava pits, and other sources of imminent demise would be something of a challenge, but there’s of course the titular worm to deal with first. Everything about your enemy is perfect - its looks amazing, completely contrasted by both color and size against the background and runner, and moves in a way that optimizes both difficulty and fairness, while remaining visually interesting and physiologically accurate. The worm is able to chew through the platforms which stall Zeke, but is also forced to wind its way around the edges instead of cutting corners - this makes certain areas mad dashes but buys you time other places. 

It’s true that these controls are better than almost anything I’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. The omni-directional movement is a little loose, and I swear there have been times that I’ve hit a gap only to be bounced off because my swipe wasn’t interpreted as I intended. This happens in plenty of games, but it's particularly frustrating when you’re trying to constantly avoid imminent destruction and have just a split second to outrun a giant evil worm. But I digress, if my sole complaint is that occasionally this game feels a little too hard, there isn’t really much to complain about. 

Worm Run is great, and has been for a while, seeing as it was successfully funded on Kickstarter back in December 2012. This is noteworthy, as only 35% of Kickstarter games are successfully funded, lower even than the 44% success rate for all projects (full data here). This doesn’t mean that all games are hopeless or that Worm Run is one of a kind, but there are certain things developers looking for crowdfunding can do, and Golden Ruby did enough of them right.

In fact, the developers did just about everything right, and made a really incredible game. I thought I’d seen it all from endless runners, but this isn’t just an endless runner. Simply put, Worm Run is a very well made game that looks great and plays even better. It very much allows for pick-up-and-play gaming, but has enough depth to keep you playing for quite a while. Stop reading, start playing it now.


Worm Run is available on Android and iOS for $0.99, and Windows phone for an even more ghastly $1.49! While free-to-play is nearly universal in the endless-whatever genre, the quality here really warrants the price tag if you’re at all a fan of these games. 

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