SQUIRMISH: The VIDEOGAME of Brawling Beasties Early Access Review

Many years ago. back in 2018. The amazing folks at Gamewright were so kind to send us a copy of their newest game at the time "Squirmis...

Many years ago. back in 2018. The amazing folks at Gamewright were so kind to send us a copy of their newest game at the time "Squirmish" A cardgame that had zany characters all getting in an arena brawling until one player reach 3 knockouts. It became a hit at the family table that year and it was a blast to loudly yell an creatures battle cry before attacking and smashing your opponent. Our review was overall pretty positive with highlights being the silly artwork by game creator Steven Stwalley and the short game length making it a good game to pick up and play for a few rounds without having to commit a whole evening/day. But we did have some issues with resolving the abilities as at times they left things a bit ambiguous, but we were told that all disagreements can be solved with a jelly filled sock fight. lucky for us it never got to that point. 

Recently the creator of the game, Steven Stwalley, made the move to bring the game into the digital realm offering a steam version of the card game where you can take on a series of AI opponents or get online playing a friend or a random person. they send us a key for an advanced copy to try and since have launched their early access on steam for everyone to experience.  Transferring physical tabletop games into a digital version has been a fairly successful genre for a while now, allowing boardgame fanatics to play their favorite games wherever they go with people from all over this beautiful round blue globe.

The first thing that stands out about the game is how much it looks and feels just like the card game in terms of presentation and artwork. All the cards the game has are in this digital copy with bright neon green background, crazy colors, characters zany and the who thing feels like it was vomited up by a unicorn who had a fantastic day at the carnival eating all the candy and taking all the rides. And let me make myself clear, this is not a bad thing. I mean that in the transition to digital the game kept its identity front and center.  In addition to a one-2-one transfer of all the card, there are now also "living and breathing " monsters from the game that fill a stadium where you play the squirmish games and some who act as your opponents. 

The gameplay has not changed from the tabletop version. A turn involves the following steps: Attack, resolve any abilities, Place or move a card (if you wish) and draw a card (if you wish). This nice thing is that the computer will take care of all the resolving for you and keep score. sadly, that means no googly eyes are used as damage counters, they are truly missed. One thing that will not happen automatically is the battle cry before you attack., if you want that bonus addition to your attack you better hit the button. All characters are voiced, and they will yell out their hoorah for you.  

After initiating an attack, an dice is rolled to see if it is successful and the result if calculated.  If you take out 3 of the opponents monster you win the game. This seems easy enough but with the ability to swap places, heal monsters and the luck of the dice roll this can take a while.

I won't get too much deeper into the game rules here you can always read more in our card game review or search online as this plays out the same.

I want to talk about the performance of the game and how it plays on a computer. First, we do need to understand that this is early access still and so the final release might see some changes over time. That said let's talk about some of the things I liked.

The biggest thing to like here is the presentation and the gameplay. Everything here feels like a tabletop session of the card game and to have it in a 
esports arena" type of location is just a perfect choice. During the game you get a quick view of the monsters' abilities etc. but with the click of a button you can zoom in and get a full card view instead which looks just like the one in the physical game. Though this is not really a deck building game in the traditional sense of the word, the game does allow you to either use the traditional deck or to rearrange them into specific builds such as a healer deck, defenders or heavy hitter deck. 

There are many ways to play offered, there is a single player mode that pits you against a series of A.I. opponents or you can play single fights to work on your skills and tactics. Then there it the PvP option to play against friends or even random strangers if you prefer. 

With all the good stuff there were a few things that right now that for me fell off but as it is an early access game, chances are good that these will still improve. Some of those issues are the A.I. computer part where I have had many games where I only rolled 1's, maybe 2's and the computer was rolling 6'es. This is all to chance, but as some point, I was wondering if the randomization was off as it started to feel like cheating.  To be honest it might need some tweaking as even the weakest of enemies was so hard to defeat, but mostly due to those imbalanced rolls. nothing worse than have you plans killed over and over by a dice roll. 

The second issue I would sometimes run into was when trying to remember what a card did before I made a decision which one to use, this was especially when I clicked the ones already on the board. Too often I would click on another card to see the details, realizing too late that I was not attacking my own card instead of looking at its details.  And those moments were frustrating, I did not find an easy way to back out and I hope that a warning step gets included or there is an easier / more clear way added to back out.

Lastly in the area of music and sfx there is room for improvement. To have all characters voiced is great to see included but some of the recording sound like they were made in the shower and can do with a remaster to make them pop more. But more importantly it feels the game is just playing random sound files and not react of what is happening in game. As a result, the opponent is yelling either the same thing over- and-over of saying something that fit with what was happening on screen and after a while it turned from something fun to something I rather turn down. So here I am hoping on an improvement as there is so much potential. 

That does not mean I am being a hater here;  The game is a lot of fun and bring something you might not ever have played before. However, these points I am making are things that I like to see improve, to better bring the fun we had with the game at the dining room table. 
Of course, it is hard to match the chaos and mayhem of a in person game, but the developer did their best to bring the fun over into digital format and they largely succeeded. If you like digital turned tabletop games and you want something light that still has some deeper strategic options build in and comes at a very reasonable price, you should consider checking out the game on steam .

I was not able to play the game online for this review so there is no information I have for you there, but I would recommend you also pick up the card game at your local friendly boardgame store and get your friends/and or family together for some fun. (After you practice using this video game of course.

Title:    SQUIRMISH: The VIDEOGAME of Brawling Beasties 
Publisher: Faust Logic, Inc
Developer: Steven Stwalley
PlatformPC (Steam) 
Release Date: 14 May 2024
Price: $6.99 ($4.89 at launch discount)

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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