Insatia is a carnivorous worm simulator I came across by watching Markiplier and Jacksepticeye play through a few weeks back. Truthfully, the ‘eat and grow bigger’ mechanic has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, but finding a standout in the genre out can be difficult. When I decided to take it for a spin, the amount of polish and innovative controls were refreshing compared to other titles in the same genre. Suffice to say, this one took the tail ends of the worms and left them with nothing but their heads.
Insatia is basic in its design and execution; the main objective is to consume prey items – even other worms – to grow bigger and bigger. There are fourteen different levels ranging from simple tutorials on how to perform basic tactics to flipping the scenario and even being the prey. During each of these levels players advance to learn refined tactics, how to defend against other worms, and even how to race during one level. Did I mention these worms are carnivorous…?
The entire ‘every worm for himself’ world takes place in Professor Pokrovky’s lab. He breeds a variety of insects and other creatures for new and interesting creations. His two assistants, Bob and Pinny, are usually make an appearance to greet players at the beginning of each level to explain what it’s about through witty dialogue either bickering with each other or talking about the objective that needs to be completed.
The worms aren’t just the usual ‘point in this direction and move forward’, but instead the player has to move accordingly to catch prey and to protect themselves. Smaller worms often have to jump to start moving fast enough to catch prey items, while bigger worms don’t need to jump as their size lends them greater speed, though at the cost of maneuverability. Larger worms can do sharp turns and consume more prey items, but being bigger doesn’t make them invulnerable.
This is where balancing comes into play, which makes it easier and challenging at the same time. Smaller worms can take on the bigger worms by eating the end of their tail. Larger worms typically can’t be eaten, but when segments of their tail are eaten they’ll start to shrink rapidly. The player benefits from this since if they’re eaten themselves, they have a chance to escape and regrow if necessary. This also gives a way for smaller worms to compete without their larger brethren completely dominating the map.
Different worms also have varying difficulties and aggressiveness depending on their colors. Green worms are harmless, black worms won’t attack but will consume anything in its path if food is available, while red worms will consume everything in sight. Even the prey items vary in their difficulty to consume with some hopping away at the first sign of danger while others take to the air. Even when the player isn’t up against dangerous foes, they’ll face a tough time trying to get certain prey items if they want to grow bigger.
The design of the creatures is simple, but colorful. When worms consume prey, they begin to grow more segments and gain extra speed. Eventually they become so big it’s impossible to see the entire worm on the screen unless it’s curled into a tight ball. Using the 2D view for Insatia was an excellent design choice as it gives the illusion of looking down into a bug box. The limited space of the levels takes advantage of this fact and even expands upon it visually. During some levels there would be a mesh in the floor that showed other worms down below moving about in their environment. This adds a sense of depth and perception I wasn’t expecting; it was a nice nod to detail.
Probably the best part has to be the sound effects when the worms are consuming prey or other worms. There’s a satisfying crunching sound when they’re munching through the segments of their rivals. Even the prey adds a bit of character, with some squeaking before they try to escape. When the worm consumes one of these smaller creatures their jaws are coated with the colored blood of their victim and there’s a splotch of color where the unfortunate prey was consumed. Even the worms themselves bleed when they’re bitten, often leaving behind a trail of splatters if several segments of their tail is consumed.
Insatia is incredibly well-polished and brings refreshing concepts to the genre of eat grow beginner mechanics. The simple, but well balanced decisions for how the worms work offers a fun challenge without feeling overwhelming for new players. Perhaps the only way the game could be improved at this point is to have online play available, one or two more additional worms, and maybe a couple of new prey items. New environments and expanding the storyline would be awesome too, but to be fair it’s still in development.
Insatia is a well-rounded, fun, engaging, addictive, and just all-around well-polished experience. I just want more of these carnivorous worms in all their glory! Those looking for something just a bit different, or need a break from the norm, should definitely consider making some time for a few worms. And if you like it, show it some support so it can get the Steam Greenlight treatment.