Writhe is a single-player, FPS, action, arcade-style game. Writhe is styled like the retro games of the past that I have always loved. It really brings me back to the days of playing Duke Nukem on the N64. It really has that retro feel. Writhe was developed by a small indie studio called Mission Ctrl Studios. For a small team, they have put together a really simple game with a good amount of challenge and replayability.
Writhe and the Meaning
Writhe is a very challenging game and I get why. The meaning of the word Writhe is to make continual twisting, squirming movements or contortions of the body. In Writhe you must do that to fend off the enormous wave of Grubs that come at you. The controls make it really easy as you only need to move, turn and shoot with the two weapons you have, the shotgun and plasma rifle. As simple as the design is, the challenge is much higher.
Writhe takes place in an alternate 70’s Thailand where there are mutant grubs that are attacking you. There are three stages: Rundown, Jungle, and Factory. Grubs are around every corner and come right for the player, so gameplay is fast-paced and I like that. The controls are very simple left-stick to move, right-stick to turn, with the left and right trigger to shoot. It can not get any easier than that.
Who Can Last Longer?
Where does the challenge come in you ask? Besides surviving a horde of grub worms from the three stages available, the challenge comes from wanting to beat your best time as well as other players. Writhe has a leader board where I can see all the scores of other players. I have slowly but surely been breaking my best time of 48 seconds and looking at the leaderboard I see players that have survived for 980 seconds. With how many grubs get thrown at you, that is amazing to me.
In Writhe, there are three stages. The design is retro and there are filters in the option to give it more of a retro feel. I love the retro design as I stated above it takes me back to days of playing Duke Nukem on the N64. Each level design is different but because the gameplay is so fast-paced each time I play I find new ways to get around the map. I’m finding new places to jump to so I can keep moving. Quickly I learned walking backward was not a good way to play as the grubs are coming from everywhere.
On the starting screen, there is the museum where you can get a little information on the grubs, weapons, and other items players will see in-game. The museum is well designed and kinda displays the type of creatures so I could check them out without them attacking. While perusing the small displays I did half expect them to just burst out and attack which would’ve made for a nice surprise, but they didn’t. On the menu, there is also a lore option to view the lore of the game. The only way I could get the lore is to play because at the end of each game I got gems based on my survival time.
What It Could Be
I feel like more can be done with Writhe. The three stages are fun but it could use a few more. The weapons are kinda basic but functional for the game size. What I think would be great is different kinds of weapons to expand upon the gameplay. It would give us more ways to fight for survival as well as maybe some new grubs. Now, none of these are necessary because as is, it is a good game with some replayability. Eventually, that runs its course where replayability becomes repetitive when there isn’t enough variation. I am personally not an achievement hunter and locking lore behind needing gems to me makes those achievements and not necessities. I imagine the lore is something that was written with care and wants the players to read.
If I could make a comparison about how the lore is done, it’s akin to how in original Destiny you acquire lore in the game but have to read it off-site. I am a firm believer that if care is taken to write lore for a game, it should be presented in front of the player. I am a big lore nerd and I love games with a good story and good lore. Lore shouldn’t be locked behind what can be called an achievement.
Writhe is a good arcade-style FPS game. It looks retro, feels retro, sounds retro, and brings me back to days of playing those types of games. Could more be done with it? Yes, but for a small three-person studio, I say it is good for what it was meant to be. It is fun, it is challenging, and I’m still working to beat my best time of 48 seconds of survival. Yes, that’s my best time on all levels so far. I find it good to play on breaks from work. I don’t have to invest lots of time when I don’t have it to enjoy Writhe.
Writhe is out now on Nintendo Switch for $9.99.