I call it, Angry Worms.
I’ve been trying to eschew the habit of mentioning other games in the opening paragraph of a review. However; I can’t speak about Worm vs. Birds and not mention Angry Birds. But this game can’t be that similar to Angry Birds, right? (Wrong)
We all know what Angry Birds is about. Fling birds at towers while trying to hit some pigs. As simple as the game may be, Worm vs Birds reduces the Angry Birds formula by removing the physicality of the world’s geometry. Now, instead of toppling towers, players just need to accurately shoot the worms at the birds. The worms do bounce off of walls and platforms (however unrealistically) but the environment remains static.
Worm vs Birds isn’t the most challenging of games. The majority of levels are designed so that they can be beaten with a single shot. These levels require little brainpower to solve- which means that success doesn’t feel rewarding. There were quite a few times that I would take a brief look at a level, fire off the worm, watch the shots bounce around for a while, and be surprised to see that I won.
Some levels are difficult, these are the ones that have a single obvious solution, but the degree of accuracy required is beyond the player’s grasp. Not only does the player’s finger get in the way of lining up a shot, but the fact that the game requires what feels like accuracy down to a single degree means that succeeding at these levels almost comes down to luck. In particular, these levels seem to require the player to launch the triple-shot worm in a way that the projectiles will fly reflect perfectly off of the environment. I don’t feel accomplished when I beat one of these levels, I just feel glad that I’ll never need to play it again.
No one level kept me stuck for too long, and in fact I beat the entirety of the game’s “story mode,” in which there is absolutely no story, during an episode of Desperate Housewives. The game does introduce some variety by means of different worm projectile types, levels that involve teleporation, and another set of levels that require the player to avoid hitting baby worms that are trapped within the level. All of this goes to waste, for the most part, because each new element introduced is gone after fifteen minutes. I don’t mind finishing some games in a single sitting. I did the same thing with Journey, and even though it took me considerably longer to beat Journey, it was still a brief gaming experience that I walked away from with a positive feeling.
To counteract the apparent brevity of the game’s story mode, the developers have included a “Nightmare Mode.” This aptly named mode challenges the player to play through a lengthy succession of levels without failing once. The moment the player fails, it is back to the beginning. This kind of play is acceptable in randomly generated games, roguelikes for instance, where the player is learning how to play the game well and progresses through skill acquisition as opposed to memorization of individual levels. Each time one plays through nightmare mode, it will be the exactly the same. Even if the player does memorize the levels, the sporadic need for pinpoint accuracy will get in the way of a level you have beaten before. Did I mention that the player’s finger blocks the screen?
Don’t think I am being harsh on the game simply because it copies Angry Birds, it is genuinely bad on its own, but part of my dislike does stem from its similarity to the famous iOS title. Games like CocoLoco manage to ape the Angry Birds formula while bringing something to the subgenre of puzzle game. These projectile based puzzlers don’t feel as if they warrant so many iterations on the same theme, and there certainly isn’t any room in the already crowded field for games like Worms vs Birds that don’t add anything of value. Right down to the awarding of X/3 stars at the end of the level, the game does its very best to give the appearance that you are playing angry birds.
Worm vs Birds feels like filler. It is a game with many flaws built upon a flimsy premise. There is nothing inspiring about its themes, its characters, or its artwork. Of course, these things are subjective, but some of the appeal of Angry Birds-esque games are their character. Worm vs Birds doesn’t have character, making it a bland experience that is not engaging. The line between a critical review and a purchasing guide is thin, but I will say that I can’t give a good reason for anyone to pick up this game over other entries in the subgenre that cost the same amount. Avoid.
Worm vs. Birds is available on the app store for $0.99