WRITHE (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 15.01.2021

Review for WRITHE on Nintendo Switch

First things first: WRITHE was basically created/released to celebrate the engagement of two developers from the tiny Mission Ctrl Studios - so, congrats Tomi and Jodi! Secondly, WRITHE is a horde-based, and retro-flavoured arena FPS, where the goal is to shoot at worms twice the size of an unfortunate Exterminator, who has been tasked with wiping them out… which is impossible. Heavily inspired by Devil Daggers, the mission is hopeless, and death inevitable - but that's the fun here! Survive as long as possible, only to go back to the fray, get a better time, and ascent the online leaderboards. A bit unimpressive in turns of scope? Sure, but still very addicting, and a great pick for those who are looking for something quick to play between their meatier games.

Bangkok, Thailand, the - alternate - '70s. A corporation has found the solution to food shortages, and that solution is called giant, mutated sago worms. Well, too bad that this is a video game, and, as expected, everything goes wrong, with the wriggling terrors finding a way to unleash their hunger onto East Asia. The player can find more about the how, the when, and the why by slowly unlocking pieces of lore, but in the end this is just some flavour text sprinkled around something that's all about shooting at giant bugs, and nothing more than that. So, you press 'Start,' and find yourself in an urban area. These chubby fellows start spawning from their holes, and the bullets start flying. After what feels like a long and challenging battle, the 'Exterminator' is down. Good job! You lasted for about 30 seconds…

Screenshot for WRITHE on Nintendo Switch

The idea behind WRITHE is that players are basically fighting a losing battle, thus the goal is to last as long as possible. Note that this won't exactly be an easy feat, because these creatures are relentless. Although it takes just a few bullets to turn them into organic dust, they are fast, come in large numbers (that increase the longer one manages to stay alive), and surround the exterminator from all directions. As such, you are always two inches from becoming worm food, which makes the whole experience quite tense for what is really a very simple, score-chasing arcade game, with not exactly the biggest variety when it comes to enemies, weapons, mechanics, and so on and forth.

Starting with weaponry, there are only two here: a rapid-shooting plasma rifle, and a powerful, but slower shotgun - both carrying an infinite ammo magazine. Upon collecting enough of the purple gems that drop from dead worms, they receive a fire rate increase, something that can be done for up to three times. Beyond that, there are no other power-ups, besides cans of juice that act as health potions, and which are hidden inside some cocoons where the strongest worms spawn from. Speaking of which, there are only three foes: the standard worm, a green one that explodes upon impact or death, and the aforementioned "tank" of the family, which is faster, as well as harder to kill.

Screenshot for WRITHE on Nintendo Switch

Fortunately, while very… Spartan, WRITHE manages to still remain engaging with the few things it has to offer. It's like those classics of old like Space Invaders, or Pac-Man, where simplicity doesn't necessarily compromises their "hidden" strategic depth. Which leads to a very important detail: this isn't a first-person shooter where the most important skill is you aim. In fact, aiming here is super easy, since your targets are a bunch of large, fat worms. This is about being constantly on the move, being mindful of your surroundings, taking care of worms as fast as you can, prioritise targets (especially cocoons), and, more importantly, always be ready to escape when encircled by too many of those tasty critters. That's not to say that this is perfect, however. Far from it...

Screenshot for WRITHE on Nintendo Switch

The way worms gang up on you can be quite aggravating, as they are too silent, and the field of view is too narrow for its own sake. It's also annoying how it's not possible to make a quick turn with the single push of a button. Moreover, there's always the feeling that this could be much, much better (a solid classic, in this critic's humble opinion), just with the simple addition of a couple of more mechanics… or power-ups, or enemies. As it is, it plays the same no matter the map chosen. Oh, and by the way, there are only three maps so far, with two more coming around Easter, along with gyro aiming.

On the audio-visual department, this goes for a retro, slightly pixely look that looks pretty neat in all its simplicity, with the OST being an assortment of forgettable, fast-paced EDM tunes. Two extra filters let one pixalate the view even more, or add a - cool - CRT effect, and there's a Quality/Performance setting, with Performance blurring textures a bit, offering a smooth 60FPS with the "sacrifice" being barely noticeable. In conclusion: no, this isn't DOOM Eternal, but it doesn't matter, because it plays an entirely different ballgame. Therefore, if in search for an easy to learn, hard to master, score-chasing FPS that is great for short bursts of playing, be sure to give WRITHE a go. Or 10, or 50, or 100…

Screenshot for WRITHE on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Underneath the extreme simplicity of WRITHE's "shoot worms until dead" concept, lies a very good, and surprisingly addicting horde/survival/endurance-centric FPS that has a neat retro vibe, and which can make you want to play it again and again, just to improve your time by a second or two, and reach a higher place on the leaderboards. There's no denying that it could be infinitely better with a couple of additional mechanics or modes, but it would be a shame to miss out on this tiny, yet still very shiny gem from Mission Ctrl Studios.

Developer

Mission Ctrl Studios

Publisher

Mission Ctrl Studios

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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