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Earthworms Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Earthworms follows the tale of Daniel White: A generic detective with a beige trenchcoat and fedora covering his face. Commissioned by a mysterious man dressed as a tree, Daniel has to  investigate a town infested with eerie, spindly tentacles lovingly dubbed by locals as “Earthworms.” Along the way, Daniel will meet interesting characters, like a barmaid who’s daily special is “Mary’s Despair,” an odd scientist known as “Dr. Cocumber,” and a burly bridge keeper who’s missing a few limbs. But the meat of the game lies in finding the best way to approach these characters to wring out the information needed to pass the obstacles and puzzles to solve the mystery of the mysterious tentacles ensnaring the quiet little town.

DIGGING IN

The puzzles in Earthworms are relatively simple, so many players shouldn’t get hung up too much during initial playthroughs. Objectives are clearly labeled in a notepad Daniel keeps in his inventory, pointing you in the right direction of what needs to be done and helps the gameplay remain fluid. In addition, Daniel has a strange power: dark visions haunt his mind, popping in whenever he nears a crucial item or character. For example, upon approaching a locked shed, a morbid image of a glass filled with blood and eyeballs appeared on the screen. It slowly fades and appears again when entering a bar in a nearby area — this means that the bar and the locked shed are related.

The key for the shed sits on a hook in the bar, and the bartender must be distracted so the key can be swiped. This mechanic helps alleviate the few rare instances of moon logic that arise later in the game when more complicated situations occur. Ultimately, this solves a long-running problem that’s often present in point-and-clicks that makes the player wonder “How the hell was I supposed to know that?” Without spoiling much, there are a few key objectives that are easy to miss that prevent the player from obtaining a “true ending,” which is worth the time considering that this game has a fair amount of good writing to keep the player entertained.

DIGGING UP THE DETAILS

The writing of Earthworms is funny at times, and genuinely interesting otherwise. Seeing the way Daniel reacts when clicking on weird objects or pursuing strange objectives is good for a few laughs across the entire playthrough, and the way he describes new areas and people during loading screens is one of the game’s most enjoyable aspects — if you can understand it. The biggest and most unforgivable flaw in Earthworms is that the entire game is plagued with bad English. Sometimes the dialogue is perfectly readable, but at certain points, it gets so bad that it’s hard to understand what the developers were trying to write for their English audience. Locked doors are referred to as “closed,” houses are called “habitats,” and once I just gave up trying to understand what Daniel was trying to tell me. The game has received a few updates after launch, but it appears that no one on the development team has been able to get the help of anyone who speaks basic English. What this game lacks in understandability, however, it makes up for in presentation.

I’M DIGGING THIS ART STYLE

The art of Earthworms is inspired by Edward Hopper, most famously known for his works of art like “Nighthawks” and “Automat.” It’s easy to see the inspiration in the soft, light colors that are used to orchestrate a surreal world that feels like a fever dream in all the best ways. Characters, backgrounds, and even the UI, all have a consistent, hand-painted theme which really helps immerse the player in the dark, twisting world of Earthworms. Eerie music plays faintly in the background and lends itself to creating an atmosphere charged with the feeling of a greater evil lurking in the shadows. Ultimately, an essence of surrealism has been captured that’s getting harder to find in modern video games.

7

The Verdict: Great

Earthworms isn’t groundbreaking. There are better point-and-click games out there, but for what it’s worth, anyone who likes point-and-clicks owe it to themselves to give Earthworms a whirl. It’s easy to play, flows nicely, puzzles are just challenging enough, and the art and music work in beautiful harmony to create a living, breathing world. If you can forgive some poor translation errors, Earthworms is well worth the price and time spent playing it.

Mike Juray
Written by
October 17, 2018
Published in Adventure

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Mike was first on the scene with a SNES and kept up-to-date on the hottest games thanks to his older brother’s shared love of all things video games. He loves staying in on rainy days with classic horror games like Silent Hill or Clocktower, but has experience across the the gamut of genres, from racing-sim to rhythm-action. He is always looking for new and different experiences, both in gaming and real life. His go-to genre is platforming, but he also enjoys a good FPS or puzzler. When he’s not holding a controller, he enjoys sushi, fluffy dogs, cold lemonades, and urbexing.

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