That feeling of déjà vu is thanks to the heap of games throughout 2010 that are identical to Death Worm. It’s bad timing for the poor guy. Back in August a similar iOS title, Super Mega Worm, was released based on the Newgrounds flash game Effing Worms that came out in July, which itself was based on an online mini-games. Every one of these games puts you in a Dune-like setting and gives you the starring role as a sandworm bent on destruction. However Death Worm for iOS manages to heave itself to the top of the pile by adding a thin veil of originality to a worn but immensely fun concept.
Graphically it’s impressively crisp. You’re given three pseudo-realistic environments, two of which you unlock after finishing off the prerequisite 15 levels of the last area. You’ll start the game in Gaza, Egypt then move over to South America and a generic city metropolis. Each environment is broken up between the underground, the land and the air, with the two latter areas filled with people, animals, explosives, military, cars, planes, helicopters, jets and the odd UFO, all of which can be attacked by you when you explode out from the ground.
You control the direction of the worm with a virtual stick, simple enough but really your only task is to take out as many things you can above ground and cause havoc. The difficulty jumps slightly when the military inevitably come into the game, by which point you’ll want to play a bit more defensively and avoid blindly jumping through the air which is quickly littered with gunfire and bursts of smoke from the ground-based explosives.
Enemies get progressively more difficult, which means you’ll have to continuously upgrade your worm each level. Upgrades make you bigger, tougher and a hell of a lot faster, which means you'll end up diving out of the ground at a higher speed and be able to reach higher objects. The game’s objectives progress vertically as time goes on, with flying saucers being one of the more difficult enemies to beat. You also have slightly shorter-term objectives, specifically to pick up the icons that fall from enemies which can be used either for temporary speed boosts or offensively to breathe fire.
Occasionally you’ll be tasked with eating or blowing up a specific number of things above-ground either within a time limit or without being damaged, but typically your only job is to take out 20, 30, 60 objects before the next level unlocks. That kind of repetition can feel meditative on an iPhone title, but here you’re sometimes left wishing for more from each level considering it’s already competing with an onslaught of similar titles. Regardless of that, it’s still the most well produced variation on the Deadly Giant Worm genre.