Pick-up-and-play, a term thats used in the industry to describe a game with a short learning curve and quick, rewarding gameplay. Worm’s has always been a game that has fallen into this category, its short battles and turn based gameplay well suited to playing for a few minutes as and when you can. For podcast listeners, you’ll be aware that my Wife is 9 months pregnant and the due date passed last Sunday with baby yet to make an appearance. Under such life changing circumstances taking on a game to review comes across as stupid, but with it’s pick-up-and-play mechanics Worms W.M.D on the Switch should be perfectly suited to fit around the birth and subsequent dirty nappy changes.
For the few of you who have never heard of the series before, Worms is a 2D turn based strategy title where you pit your team of worms against others in a battle to the death. It takes tried and tested gameplay mechanics and lathers them with a unique charm and selection of outlandishly crazy weaponry. The series has been around for a while, and despite a few attempts to take the series in a new direction it has always remained very much the same at its core. Worms W.M.D sticks to the proven formula, sticking with the concept of evolution over revolution and because of this it’s a very decent game.
A series of tutorials familiarise you with the basic mechanics, allowing you to sample a selection of weapons and hardware both old and new. The majority of the traditional weapons return such as the bazooka, grenades and shotgun but the list has been extended slightly with some new weapons to try. New – or at least new from my perspective with Worms 3D being the last title I committed any serious time too – are the introduction of vehicles and stationary weapon platforms. Mobile vehicles, such as the Tank and Helicopter other increased movement and protection as well as some serious firepower. Stationary guns offer just the later, but are excellent for long range or carving up the landscape to create paths. Another new feature is crafting, where new or upgraded hardware can be forged by either collecting materials hidden in supply crates or by dismantling weapons into parts. Crafting and item takes a turn, and situationally is useful to turn surplus items into something more useful. Overall however it’s finicky, a laying of complexity that takes away from the simplicity of what lies underneath, and as such I seldom used the feature beyond what the game required.
Alongside basic and advanced tutorials, the game offers a single player campaign and a selection of challenging missions to test your strategical ability. Challenge missions – unlocked by finding hidden collectables in the main campaign – are more like puzzles requiring you to leverage limited resources to defeat a single foe. Extras provide a set of pre-established scenarios pitching you against overwhelmingly one-sided odds. Both challenge you in new ways, with often limited solutions requiring you to restart over and over until you get it right. Each mission is also complimented with a set of additional challenges, such as using a specific weapon to bag the final kill, which helps encourage you to vary things as you play alongside hinting at the intended strategy when things aren’t perhaps so clear.
Alongside the decent amount of single player content is a multiplayer mode, which offers both local and online play against other players. Pass-and-play is supported, which is handy when you’ve left your spare Joy-Cons at home – sadly I couldn’t persuade the midwife to play. Local play also acts as a skirmish style mode, allowing you to play solely against the AI if that’s what you would prefer. The AI itself is decent, and for the causal player will provide a decent enough challenge even if it can be a little forgiving at times. Pitching yourself against others however, in particular in ranked matches, should provide the ultimate challenge for those who have exhausted everything else.
Having been previously released on other platforms last year, in general the port to the Switch has been well executed. The game itself is well to suited portable platform, more so than console play in my opinion. Graphically the game looks very good, with the beautifully detailed hand-drawn environments the most worthy of note. Audio is pleasant enough although on the whole unmemorable, with the highlight being the general banter between units as you play. I did have issue with some aspects, although these are entirely minor. Some text and some menus are very small, in particular the weapon and crafting selection menus, trying to cram a lot of information into a very small space. These could easily benefit from a rethink, but for now just doubling the size would be welcome. Pauses during turn transitions are also irritatingly long, with the engine seemingly pausing for no real reason before continuing. Overall however developer Team 17 have done an accomplished job, and the game feels and plays very at home on the Switch.
Overall, Worms W.M.D retains the classic formula and charm of the previous games and slightly enriches the experience with some new mechanics and game modes. It’s well suited to portable play, where a couple of levels can be easily be knocked out during a lunch break or bus trip – or in my case whilst attending the birth of you child at the delivery unit. It’s not particularly adventurous, but feels true to its roots and fans of the series should be pleased with what the game has to offer. For those of you new to the series, its a refreshing gameplay experience requiring little investment to get going but plenty of depth to challenge you. Finally, for those Switch owning fathers wanting something to play at the hospital whilst your wife gives birth, Worms W.M.D afforded me the time to support the wife whilst slipping in the odd turn in-between.
Worms W.M.D was provided to us by Team 17 for Nintendo Switch.