To coin a phrase from a popular comedian, what is the deal with the characters in these running games? Why are they running? What's the rush? You know, you could've snagged that coin tucked away behind that pillar back there if you would've just eased on up to it. The terrified spaceman you play in Worm Run [$0.99] has a valid excuse. He's on the move, and needs to stay that way, because a giant worm is plunging after him, devouring everything in its path. Glance back and you'll see him, eating his way through stone and dirt and steel.

Worm Run throws a few wrenches into the endless runner formula. It's endless, but doesn't pump your legs for you. You do that by swiping. Swipe left and right to run, swipe up and to either direction to jump, and so on. The control scheme sounds simple enough, but it didn't gel with me at first. Holding my phone in my right hand, I used my left pointer finger to swipe. The tutorial didn't nudge me toward or away from any particular pose, so I went with that. It wasn't comfortable. My wrist cramped from holding the phone, and swiping with one finger didn't give me the precision I needed to hop up into narrow shafts.

Then, a breakthrough. I held the phone like a controller and set my thumbs on the lower corners, as if I were playing a dual-stick shooter. To jump, I slashed my thumb over the screen and used my left thumb to maneuver my runner in midair. Wall bounding was a treat. You slash up and to the direction you want to jump, so I put both thumbs to work and rocketed up vertical shafts as if I'd been shot from a cannon. And running? Get both your thumbs in on the swiping and not even the world's most famous hedgehog will be able to keep up.

I'm not sure if Golden Ruby Games intended for me to stumble upon the optimal way to play, but their game went from serviceable to an absolute blast the instant I learned how to crank my little runner's speed up to 11 and positively fly. Get going fast enough and you can even run right over all but the largest pits. The sheer act of moving is a joy in Worm Run and a huge leap forward from the simple steering mechanic used in most auto-running runners.

Next to movement, the worm is perhaps the most enjoyable element of Worm Run. The cartoony creature isn't terrifying, and it isn't meant to be, but when my screen started shaking and I caught a glimpse of a fuzzy body drilling through the earth toward me, I gripped my phone a little tighter and swiped a little faster. Items along the way such as bombs that stun the worm and ice cubes that freeze the ground buy precious time, and you can unlock other handy tools such as a magnet that sucks up coins for you.

You'll barrel through many different environments in your mad dash, and the terrain gets trickier as you go. You can collect coins spread around each area, but they're usually just far enough off the main road that sparing a second to grab one allows the worm to sate its voracious appetite. Ah, and thus your dilemma: stopping for coins is risky, but you can use them to buy a revival when the worm finally swallows you whole. Venturing off the trail to stock up makes for tense "GO! GO! GO!" moments in later, more congested areas--and venture off you likely will, since reviving gets pricier the longer you play.

For just a dollar, Worm Run almost sells itself. Its lightning-on-ice movement speed and motivation to keep on trucking in the form of a gigantic carnivorous beast make for a nice alternative to the droves of autopilot runners available on the App Store.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Stustaff

    WOW. I'm sorry to say this is the first time I have disagreed with review on here entirely. It's an awful experience(the game that is!). There is no skill involved at all, you just swipe swipe swipe until you get bored or trapped on a stupid piece of scenery design.

    On my first go I stopped because of genuine finger(well thumb) fatigue.

    It's not that I don't like this type of game it's just a poor poor implementation. It's almost not a runner but a timed platform game.

    I honestly could have played for an infinite amount of time but tend to get bored after 5 minutes of swiping. If I do die its due to getting snagged on one of the 4 pixel high blocks that are thrown in just to make you die in a way which would be annoying if you weren't so relieved it were over.

    There is no time to actually intentionally do anything and the obstacles landing areas etc are so tiny and controls so random you can't plan a route which you don't need to anyway.

    Special kudos to the power ups which make no difference go how you play at all... Swipe swipe swipe swipe...

    • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

      Sorry you didn't like it, man. As you say in your comment above, "one man's cheese" and all that. :) But I loved it. Specifically, as I pointed out, I loved moving. I had a blast parkour-ing my way across screen after screen.

      • Stustaff

        Yeh I'm just not feeling it. It happens.

        To me it feels less parkour and more pinball where every surface is a bouncy thing.

    • Zhang Doe

      I complete agree. The control system of swiping at the angle you want to move is inaccurate and half the time you get stuck. Horrible game layout. The fact that you don't have time to bother collecting coins is also poor game design. Collecting coins and purchasing power-ups should be part of the fun of this genre.

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  • TheFrost

    I, on the other hand this is a well written and accurate review

    • Stustaff

      Oh I don't think it's poorly written. And it's not accurate for me. One mans cheese is another mans chopstick and all that.

      The game though 'for me' is shocking.

      • TheFrost

        Didnt meant that directly towards you :P Just my opinion of it

  • demarchy

    This is one of the best runners I've played in a long time, makes a nice change from all the temple run clones. The control scheme is what makes the game fun, once you get the hang of it , the game is a blast.

  • http://www.kizi2.com/ kizi 2

    Thank you for this article very specific and detailed. I will download this to play games. Again thank you very much.

  • worldcitizen1919

    Worst runner ever! Worst control system. Worst graphics. Worst gameplay in a runner. Is this a runner? I think not. Waste of $. Don't buy. Don't go near. Even for free not worth your time.

    • MidianGTX

      I'm not a huge fan of the game, but as soon as you said "worst graphics" I decided never to read any of your comments ever again. Please don't ever attempt a game review.

    • DCver3

      Wow...I liked the cartoony graphics. I'm in agreement with the review. I haven't really been getting hung up on any of the obstacles. You die more frequently collecting coins and such but if you're nimble enough it's doable. Not a bad game for a buck.

Worm Run Reviewed by David Craddock on . Rating: 4.5