It’s always struck us as a little peculiar that out of all the fearsome and ferocious predators dotted around the world developer Team17 decided to single out the seemingly docile worm as its sole representative for artillery-based warfare. Whatever the reasons (we’d love to hear them) it’s proved an inspired decision, with the series now nearing its 20th anniversary.
After a game-altering spate in the three-dimensional realm – one that only Hogs of War could so coolly perfect – Worms’ is back to its side-scrolling glory for its first next-generation outing. Yes, it’s never been a series to stretch the considerable capabilities of the machines it’s found itself on but that’s always been part of its quirky, intriguing charm – forever relying on considered, pick-up-and-play mechanics, explosive multiplayer options and a healthy dose of humour.
The crux of contention – as it is with all Worms’ games - ultimately lies with its formulaic approach to gameplay; the core mechanics are fundamentally immutable and that’ll perhaps be welcomed by many potential suitors whilst at the same time reviled by others. It’s simply a matter of refinement rather than revolution, and that’s by no means a bad thing. Relative to the PlayStation 4, the game certainly takes advantage of the DualShock 4’s unique skill set, with the worms’ shrill voices squeaking from the speaker, the touchpad being used as a cursor to navigate menus, and the light bar reflecting the status of your battle-tested invertebrates.
Atop of the usual, run-of-the-mill side-scrolling warfare, developer Team17 has introduced a plethora of intricacies and nuances that do well to shift the dynamic of proceedings, namely the inclusion of water mechanics, magnets and game-changing weapons. The former provides the biggest alteration of all by changing the way players approach each battle – if harnessed correctly, water can be used to deadly effect; hit an enemy with a well-timed splash of water and they’ll go skidding and slipping to their demise, or even submerge a troupe by destroying the faucet-like water containers placed above to slowly drown them turn by turn.
Likewise – much like the introduction of girders before them – magnets also prove an incredibly handy tool of destruction, amplifying the potency of mainstay items such as the mine immensely; place a magnet to ‘repel’, set an explosive mine, and watch it get hurled in the direction of the magnetic force. If done correctly - and used in conjunction with items such as barrels - the outcome can be astounding. There’s a lot of trial-and-error in trying to get the trajectory at optimum level, mind. So don’t expect to be flinging mines onto the foreheads of rival worms straight off the bat.