Earthworms Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: All Those Moments

Publisher: SONKA

Release Date: Out

Price as of Article: $7.99 USD, £7.19 GBP

Rating: T

File size: 1418.72 MB

Demo available

Story

Fair warning, Earthworms will get you into the action in a rather fast manner. At first, you do not know what is going on the second you are in Daniel White’s office. You just know that he is a detective, and I would assume, you would have known his profession by just looking at him. He has this iconic beige trench coat that we all saw a couple of times before when Columbo wore it with style. So why not Daniel too? He rounds up his outfit with a hat that’s good against the stiff breeze of the spooky place called Islands of Dar, where he is about to head off to. Before he goes out to investigate though, he briefly tells you, the player, that he has been having visions for quite some time.

It all starts rather normal, eh? Normal detective’s office and your first task is to find the keys for his, probably not too expensive and down to earth car, so Dan can leave. I am stretching the “normal” part quite often, right? Well, because it is about to change! As our protagonist wants to go out, a strange client enters and hands you a picture of a young woman. That poor soul is lost and you are apparently the man for the job as Mister White accepts the case without hesitation. He doesn’t even seem to question the strange appearance of the mysterious man as he is dressed as a… tree. I actually thought you should be careful as a detective, but oh well…

The missing girl Lydia is not the only of your problems as you arrive at Island of Dar, but I think you will see that for yourself when the first tentacles appear. They are not purple, by the way, but still odd and being a plague to the island. Dan is about to dive deep into the mystery of this place. Finding the young woman is not the only problem that you’ll encounter in this Point and Click adventure though…

 

Earthworms Image 3
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Where do these things come from and why…?

Gameplay

All classic Point and Click adventures have similar gameplay and Earthworms will not be causing a revolution here. You have the cursor that you can move with the left analog stick. Tapping the A button will cause an interaction with that object. Y opens the trusty notebook that every detective has. Here, Dan writes down his objectives. The X button will show you the inventory, all items conveniently stored in a black backpack that looks awfully like one I own myself, too. When pressing B, a little menu opens. Displayed here are the visions that Daniel has. From time to time and by making progress in the game, you will find out what the visions hidden meanings are.

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Daniel in the middle of having one of his visions.

You can switch between the various so-called visions, when pressing L or R after you have tapped the B button. Selecting them and pressing A will trigger Dan commenting on them. If you fancy it, you can also use the D-Pad with all the arrows corresponding to the trusty button combination of A, B, X and Y. For example, if you push button X or the up button, you open the backpack. That was something I liked, but don’t ask me why. The + button brings up the menu where you can save manually. The game does not do that for you, so make sure to save often! I also recommend you to save on different save files if you want to experience all three possible endings without regrets, but more on that later.

The controls are, to be honest, a bit flimsy and not translated well into the Switch port. I can only imagine what the Steam version is like, but thankfully, the developer has given you the option to control your private investigator with the tip of your fingers as well. With my lovely Nintendo console having the same problem that many encountered before me as well (or as I call it “The stubborn left stick situation”), I was nearly writing an angry letter to the manufacturer when playing this title. The cursor moves too quickly and is too sensitive when moving the left stick. You cannot believe how often I sat in front of my TV, cursing.

Daniel White might be a desk worker, but I am pleased with the way he moves. He is generally a fast-paced walker, which makes the tedious part of a Point and Click, the constant walking from A to B back to A and then to location J, really pleasant. Tap the screen twice to make him go even faster for added pleasant times.

Earthworms offers you various kinds of puzzles. The balancing act is difficult, when providing things to solve. They should not be too easy, but also not too difficult at the same time. Luckily, this title by Sonka did not disappoint me. I did encounter the “annoying kind” of puzzles (of course, that is totally up to personal preference) but not too often. There were also the painful ones, like the one about arranging a beautiful set of skulls into a wall. I admit it, I am a messy person, so that one did not speak out to me too well. Mostly you have the full galore of combining items. Point and Click fans will know that feeling too well.

As I had mentioned before, there are three possible endings in the game. You got a bad, a good, and a neutral ending. As I am not a fan of spoiling readers in my reviews, I will stop at giving you that information. I’ll only hint that you can actually end up at a point, where you cannot revisit certain areas to make things turn out another way. Be careful!

*This review was written by Jennifer for switchwatch.co.uk.

Audio

Friends of my work will clench their teeth when it comes to this section, because you know how picky I am. For all the other readers: I am picky and not very forgiving with music that loops the same tunes. So, keeping in mind that Earthworms is a creepy horrorish Point and Click, the music has to be on point to add to the atmosphere. I can say that the developers gave their best to send your ears an invitation to a good musical experience, leaving me with an uneasy feeling. Sometimes, the music was so nightmarish, I had to leave the area or turn the volume down to mute. I have to admit, I am very prone to creepy things, so maybe you do not agree as highly with me here when I say you could not do a much better job on the audio. Sadly, the text does not get any voiceover. In my opinion, this would have added another level of tension if the voice and sound effects were in harmony with the excellent music.

Visuals & Performance

Do not expect a bright explosion of colour here. Like it states in the title, the game is rather dull with its earthen colour palette. The images have carefully hand-painted pieces and was inspired by works made with watercolour. This also happens to be, by the way, my favourite art material.

Earthworms Image 4
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That makes us two, Dan…

The art style of Earthworms is inspired by Edward Hopper. He is considered as the most important realist painter of the twentieth century. He captured realism with keeping in mind that it is not always a pure copy of what the human eye sees, but rather giving reality an interpretive rendering. If you watch closely during puzzle solving and exploring, you can actually see this concept being adapted into the game. The background moves like watercolours would behave if you painted with them in real life. It is an interesting way to bring some life into a rather consciously dull level design. I liked this very much, it felt kind of like you are in a dream that slowly shifts into one piece, some bits still blurry. The character design is sometimes rather funny (hint: our plant-loving friend), but not too exciting overall. From Dan, to the barmaid, up to Lydia, developer All Those Moments resigned of having any overly facial expressions up to giving their character almost none. It suits the game very well in my opinion since everything gets more mysterious as you make progress.

Performance wise, the game never broke down on me and performed flawlessly on handheld and TV mode.

Value

Earthworms comes with a reasonable price tag. £7.19 GBP or $7.99 USD is not a lot of money for the hours you’ll get. I am sure that a very ambitious player can finish that game in one sitting. I haven’t been able to play for hours, but was still able to get so submerged in the story and world of this title, that I did finish it in one sitting. I would say that you could get approximately 7 or 8 hours out of this game. A good value if you ask me, if you are not bothered by a weird turn of events and open to a surreal story.

*A review copy of Earthworms was provided to SwitchWatch by SONKA.

Pros

P

Unique and pretty visuals

P

Great variety of puzzles

P

Solid Soundtrack

Cons

P

Slight flimsy controls

P

No Autosave function might end in a dead end (if you want to play all endings)

P

Story might be too crazy for some people