Taking liberal notes from Super Meat Boy and Celeste, Squirm gives players a healthy dose of platforming action in a MetroidVania wrapper. Does this game stand with the greats, or is it a frustrating mess?
Players will take control of Squim in Squirm. Squim is a pasty, plain looking protagonist, one that doesn’t say anything and can jump high. The ultimate goal of the game is to collect the six keys in its world filled with snowy peaks, castles, space, and “Spookeliums.” These motifs extend to the enemy types as well – players will fight off giant skulls, solar systems, and other ne’er-do-wells. Though the story is light and somewhat cryptic, it gives players a basic objective as they progress through the game. There are a number of NPCs that dot the landscape as well, out to make bad jokes and curse. This isn’t exactly high class literature, but it is largely inoffensive. Just watch out for the typos.
Each of the different areas in Squirm offers a different challenge. One may have you flipping three switches as you navigate fireballs, while another may have slippery platforms and ice blocks you must push around. Some of these things work better than others – the one hit deaths and trial and error gameplay can lead to frustrating encounters, and the death counter does not prove to be a vote of confidence. When the screen is dark or controls are flipped, it feels like the game is messing with you. Despite all of this, there are infinite lives and enemies do not respawn.
Squim does not have a lot of moves at his disposal. The aforementioned high jump is there, but later on he can also shoot enemies with a gun, perform a double jump, and even use a jetpack. Wall jumps, a diverse set of weaponry, or any other advanced maneuvers are MIA – rather, this game keeps things simple throughout its journey. The end of the game changes mechanics a little bit, and there is a special shmup section, but it is by no means a game changer.
It’s not the longest journey either. Though players can hunt for hidden stars located off the beaten path, most players will be able to finish the game in less than two hours. It’s not the type of game that will keep you playing for days to come, but the low price point somewhat reflects that.
Squirm is a simple game that does not do anything out of the ordinary. The trial and error gameplay can be a dealbreaker for some, though those that persevere may enjoy how comforting everything is.