Meet Mr Mark. He’s a funky earthworm who loves a good hat, food, and a bit of smooth jazz. He’s basically me!
Worm Jazz is a very cute puzzler that sees you guiding Mr Mark around small mazes to gobble up food and reach the golden apple at the end of the level. There’s one catch: whenever you eat a piece of food, you grow bigger in a manner similar to the Nokia phone classic Snake. There’s no time pressure here, but it still quickly makes getting around levels pretty difficult, and it soon becomes clear that it will never just be a straight shot from start to finish. You’ll soon find yourself struggling for space as you run out of it, having to backtrack on yourself using the handy undo button. Get used to that button, it’s about to become your best friend!
As you progress, more obstacles will present themselves to you, the most common being mines. If you touch mines, you die. Simple. Thankfully, green food laying around the place enables you to survive the blast, removing your head and growing a new one in place. Good old Mr Mark. This is also where eat order comes into play. If a green piece of food is eaten followed by ten regular pieces before you run into mine, you’ll lose ten pieces of your body, but if you eat ten pieces before the green and run into a mine, you’ll just lose the one piece. Depending on the situation, you’ll need to decide when to eat that tasty green food.
But what if you like a bit of spice in your diet? Enter the spicy red food. These cause secondary explosions when you hit a mine, if eaten after a green food. That can be handy when coming up against destructible walls, but means you need to figure out the eat order so there’s the exact amount of spaces between where you hit the mine and where the explosion occurs. One particular level stuck out was have to tie together eighth explosions in a chain, meaning I spent about 20 minutes counting what I was eating, going forward, measuring my body against the rocks and then undoing all my progress if I was wrong. It required some serious brain power to figure out.
Later, the game is changed once again when you get to the portals. If things weren’t complicated enough, now you have to work your way through space and time in order to eat all the delicious food. These portals split your worm and give rise to some really inventive ways of completing levels, squeezing your body into as much space as possible. Some levels get especially tight, using every single empty space to complete, and you’ll eventually have multiple pairs of portals on screen at once making for levels that require an insane amount of big brain energy to complete.
All of the mechanics are introduced gradually, giving you time to get to grips with each one. I’m not usually great at puzzlers like this, so I appreciated the length I was given between introducing new mechanics. It felt like the right amount of time, even if I struggled with many of the levels.
That doesn’t stop you from encountering a number of difficulty spikes, and there were quite a few moments where I just sat there in despair as I couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong. The undo button was getting sick of me, I reckon! That said, I respect the puzzle design. They all adhere to some very sound logic and utilization of the space around you. Can you squeeze into this tight space? Try it, it might be the solution you are looking for. Experimentation is massively encouraged. When you can’t quite see a solution, try new things. You might surprise yourself. Solving a puzzle that you’ve been stuck on for ages makes you feel like you’ve ascended to a higher plane of consciousness.
Each level can be completed with a one star rating fairly easily. This normally only requires you to collect a small number of food. If you really want to shoot for that three star rating, you’ll need to collect everything. I often found myself simply punting for a one star rating and then coming back later once I’d gained some brain power, to clean up.
It helps that you have very smooth jazz playing in the background. I always joke that the perfect evening is chilling in a lounge chair, playing something casual, sipping on a rich coffee with a smooth jazz medley playing in the background. Worm Jazz comes pretty close to that, its mellow soundtrack taking the edge off the stress of trying to figure out quite intense puzzles. To add to the class even further, you can even unlock new hats for Mr Mark as you play. A worm in a top hat is certainly a sight to behold.