It’s hard to say whether worms are a dying breed (usually, if left to their own devices, worms turn into the most cruel, vicious, and despicable creatures you could ever hope to meet in a game). But it’s hard to deny that for a while, worms did rule the roost on almost every platform that you could name.
The Worms franchise has always been known for its plethora of customization, and Worms Rumble (the newest entry in the series) is no exception. Players are treated to more than 75 pieces of clothing, hats, and accessories to help them customize their worms with various qualities and abilities. There’s also a large list of weapon types, ranging from standard weapons to even a few outlandish ones to keep the player on their toes.
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Before Team17 became one of the industry’s most respected curators and independent publishers, with games like Yooka-Laylee and Blasphemous, it was best known for its flagship Worms series. Who doesn’t love the simplicity and fun of this silly turn-based strategy idea with worms and cannons? The newest iteration of the franchise, Worms Rumble, is not quite like that. Rather than a sequel to 2016’s excellent Worms W.M.D, Worms Rumble is either a spin-off or an attempt to radically reinvent the franchise’s core game cycle. I really hope it’s the first one.
Instead of being yet another turn-based artillery game in which the franchise essentially dominates the competition, Worms Rumble is a real-time shooter 2.5. This is already the first confusing design decision in this game of the many we will see later. I get it, kids love their multiplayer shooters, Fortnites and the like. But Worms is all about slow gunplay and strategy. It’s not for nothing that some people call all other artillery games Worms clones. In itself, this wouldn’t be a bad thing, but the fact is that Worms Rumble isn’t very good. Sure, it’s not terrible, it’s playable and (very occasionally) entertaining, but of all the Worms games I’ve played, this may be the most forgettable of them all.
In terms of gameplay, Worms Rumble is a mix of a two-dimensional platformer, a two-level action game and a standard multiplayer shooter. You move through levels in 2.5D, jumping on platforms, making occasional wall jumps (confusing and poorly explained), and shooting at any other worms that cross your path with a simplified aiming system tied to the right analogue stick. It’s not a bad control system once you get used to the strange button layout (jumping with the A button on the Switch is just plain weird), but it goes just a little bit beyond basic.
Here’s what you have to do: jump and kill other worms in various multiplayer modes like Deathmatch and Last Worm Standing – their own version of the Battle Royale genre, I guess. Go through a few modes, earn experience points, unlock some wacky cosmetics for your worm that aren’t even visible during the game because your playable character is so small, and repeat until you get bored. That’s pretty much all the game has to offer, as there’s no campaign or single player mode, aside from the functional but unimpressive training ground. The lack of content in this game, which was released six months ago at the time of writing this review, is striking and disappointing.
I also don’t think Worms Rumble is a good choice for the Switch. It’s not about the graphics, which are decent, although the quality of the textures and frame rate have been lowered to run on a weaker system. The same can’t be said for the overall sound design, which is forgettable but filled with one-word phrases that are too charming to hate. The biggest problem is that this game requires a constant internet connection, which goes against the concept of playing your games anywhere with a portable system. Not to mention that the Switch’s network infrastructure is known for not being the best, although I was able to connect to games pretty quickly.
I applaud when developers try to do something new in established franchises, but not at the expense of what people loved most in those franchises in the first place. This is the biggest problem with Worms Rumble: It’s just not as engaging as its turn-based counterparts. In a sea of multiplayer shooters with much more content, some of which you don’t have to pay for upfront, this game just doesn’t have what it needs to stand out. Add to that the reduced visual fidelity of the Switch version and the fact that you can’t play it on the go due to the mandatory online connection, and you’re left with a forgettable attempt to make a classic franchise palatable to a target audience that wasn’t interested in it in the first place.
|A good implementation of what more powerful consoles could do, at the cost of drastically lowering frame rates.||The usual directional system in a two-player shooter, coupled with a two-dimensional action platformer. It will take some time to get used to the unusual play style of Worms and the strange button layout in this version.|
|The soundtrack is nothing special, but the funny voice-overs of the worms are too cute not to like.||It’s just an average 2D shooter that deviates too much from the standard Worms formula and doesn’t distinguish itself from other multiplayer shooters. It would have been more fun if it had more substance than a handful of online modes and meager cosmetics.|
|Final decision: 6.0|
Worms Rumble is already available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC and Switch.
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A copy of Worms Rumble was provided by the publisher.
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All of the games in the Worms series have been huge hits for the franchise, with almost every one selling well over a million copies. However, for a few years now, Worms developer Team 17’s attention has been divided between its other successful franchise, Worms WMD. This is a shame, because the Worms franchise has a huge fan-base that have been desperately crying out for a new game in the series. The good news is that the franchise is back and it’s better than ever.. Read more about worms rumble mac and let us know what you think.
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