Developer: Mission Ctrl Studios
Publisher: Mission Ctrl Studios
Genre: Arcade, Action, Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 15/01/21
A code was provided for review purposes.
WRITHE is a first-person arcade shooter. As an exterminator, you are tasked with killing mutated worms. Blast through infinite waves of mutating worms and try to stay alive for as long as possible before meeting inevitable demise.
To feed the starving population, scientists began growing massive worms. These worms turned out to be dangerous and started multiplying rapidly. It did not take long before apocalypse. The story is not a major feature in WRITHE, but the story presented makes sense. Additionally, collecting orbs will unlock documents detailing the lore even further. While the story featured is not incredibly deep, the story provided immerses the player into the world and provides a background that ties into the gameplay.
In addition to the lore pages, WRITHE features a museum that shows replicas of the worms and various models used in the game. The player can explore the museum and read the plaques detailing the items provided. This is an excellent addition and can help players understand the pupae, or properties, of the worms. Unfortunately, the walk speed is incredibly slow, making traversing the museum frustrating. Additionally, exiting the museum cannot be done with a menu. The player must walk from where they are to the exit door. This would not be such an inconvenience if the walking speed were increased. Although burdened by a slow walking speed, the museum is an incredible addition that immerses the player in the lore of WRITHE.
The gameplay featured in WRITHE is extremely enjoyable. Hordes of enemies swarm the player, and the player is rarely given time to breathe. This rapid gameplay keeps the player engaged the entire round. The goal is to survive the mass of enemies trying to murder you for as long as possible.
The player is equipped with a plasma rifle and a shotgun. The rifle blasts foes from afar, while the shotgun specializes in close range combat. Not only are these weapons viable alone, but the weapons can be used simultaneously. Learning how to use each weapon enables the player to survive longer, and developing these skills is enjoyable considering the variety of combat styles. Killing enemies provides gems that upgrade the weapons. There are three upgrades for each and choosing which weapon to upgrade first adds additional strategy. In addition to firing weapons, the player has a jump that can be used to evade enemies or navigate the map. Not only does the jump encourage movement, but the walk speed makes travelling through the level enjoyable. Requiring the player to traverse around the map to slaughter the worms always ensures strategic, chaotic, and intense gameplay.
Although the exterminator only has two weapons, the character feels fully fleshed out. Unfortunately, the lack of content becomes evident with the enemy variety. There are only three types of enemies. There are Giant Sago Wyrms, which are the basic enemy, Fusewyrms, which are radioactive and detonate on impact or death, and Bullwyrms that move faster and can withstand additional hits. Including three types of enemies helps diversify the gameplay. However, additional enemy types would make the game more engaging. At times, the gameplay loop becomes repetitive due to the lack of enemy variety.
WRITHE features three maps to fight enemies in. These stages change how the player interacts with the enemies. Maps feature ramps that give the player different vantage points, walls to impede on vision, and some maps even include low ceilings that impede the player’s jump. The variety in maps add much needed variety to the gameplay. It would have benefitted the game to include additional map choices, but the map choices provided were well crafted and increased the longevity of the game.
While the variety featured in WRITHE is somewhat lacking, the gameplay loop required to survive is incredibly engaging. At times, a Giant Sago Wyrm will turn into a pupa. These pupae will hatch into Bullwyrms, aggressive and ferocious enemies. This forces the player to maneuver through the map attacking the pupae before they hatch. Additionally, destroying the pupae rewards the player with additional health which further incentivizes the player to play in this style. Not only does the implementation of the pupae discourage camping, but they offered an innovative way to reward the player for interacting with the game in the way the developers intended.
The sound design is mediocre. The music is loud, resembling the apocalypse that took place. The music is fitting of the theme, taking inspiration from retro arcade games. The sound effects are also decent as well. The sound design behind the weapons is excellent. Unfortunately, one of the largest flaws is the lack of auditory indicators when worms are directly behind the player. Currently, only the Fusewyrm makes sounds when it is close to the player. While this decision makes sense, as that enemy deals the most damage, it is disheartening to take damage from an enemy that made no noise. This design decision forces the player to know where the spawners of the worms are and know when worms will spawn. Apart from that grievance, the audio performs well.
The visuals featured in WRITHE are surprisingly striking. The game features disgusting worms, but they are featured in vibrant and unique maps. They stand out from the background and are easy to spot, despite the wealth of information displayed on the screen. The game also features visual indicators for where health pickups and pupae are. These are extremely helpful to the player and added to the gameplay experience. This reinforces the importance of traversing the map to eliminate the pupae, and ensures the player knows that the pupae are hazardous. The game even implements both a performance and graphics mode to ensure that the game can run as smoothly as possible. The visuals ensure that all enemies stand out from the background and that the player is well informed of the task at hand.
This game features a leaderboard, enticing the player to retry the same levels again to achieve longer times. The only game mode in WRITHE is survival. It may be tedious to some players to replay the same endless level indefinitely. But the game has extremely rapid respawns, ensuring the player can get back into the action as soon as they desire.
While the amount of content provided is a little small, WRITHE offers an excellent gameplay loop with decent lore surrounding it. Players interested in arcade games or first-person shooters will have an excellent time playing this game. I greatly enjoyed my time with WRITHE.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase WRITHE from the Nintendo eShop here