As the name implies, Slitherio is pretty much a clone of Agario. The goal is to eat dots and get bigger. Simple, really. Silly, even. And yet, I can't stop playing it. I've been playing Slitherio non-stop for the past week, and I am not alone in my obsession. Right now, Slitherio is the number one free app on iOS, and the browser version is rather popular, too. It's racking up millions and millions of views on YouTube, where top entertainers such as Pewdiepie, Markiplier and Jacksepticeye have all shown it off to their giant audiences. It's likely that the relatively new game already has millions of players.
The game's popularity is easy to explain. For one, it takes after a game that is already popular: Agario was 2015's most searched game term. Like Agario, it is easy to pick up and understand, even if you don't really play video games. You just move your mouse to guide your avatar, which you can name anything you'd like. The difference is, you play as a worm instead of a cell.
It's a cosmetic change, but it makes a big difference: there's more personality to Slitherio. It's easier to become attached.
Once out in the playing field, the goal is to eat the glowing dots. The more dots you eat, the bigger you get. The bigger you get, the higher your score. The twist is, if you crash into anybody else playing, you die and turn into dots — which players can then eat. Yeah, this is a multiplayer game.
Thanks to the incredible number of people playing, along with the ability to boost your worm with a right click, games of Slitherio are very fast-paced. You'll probably die quickly the first time you play. Then, as you get better and learn more things, the stakes are raised. You'll want to maintain your big worm for as long as possible. You'll want to beat your last score. Before you know it, you've spent hours if not days playing Slitherio. It will hook you like that.
Though it's easy to pick up, the dynamics at the heart of Slitherio are fascinating. Do you play aggressively, trying to kill other players with your boosts? Do you just stay out of the fray, dutifully eating dots at a slow and steady pace? Do you follow the big worms? And if you happen to become a big worm, just what the hell do you do? How do you deal with all the tiny worms circling you like vultures? Can you stop yourself from laughing like a maniacal villain when you get to the top of the leaderboard? I love the primal tension that other players bring to the game. This is exactly what makes multiplayer games so great.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS HUGE BEFORE I was even on the leaderboard! lmfao pic.twitter.com/c7aTn4TkLX
— Patricia Hernandez (@xpatriciah) April 8, 2016
I still remember the first time a big worm wrapped its body around my tiny character, dooming me to crash into it. I was indignant. I was PISSED. I was like, why would anybody do something like that? And then of course I got out of that game and made it my sole mission to kill someone else like that. Slitherio turns you into a bastard, but hey. Whatever you gotta do to get big!
Some more errant thoughts:
- My favourite thing in the world is starting a game and having a big worm die right in front of you. JACKPOT.
- I love all the ridiculous, awful names other players adopt. You're just as likely to see a 'Hitler' as you are a 'I Fucked Your Mum', which sounds terrible, except I love killing people with names like that. Awful names like that are great for inspiring you to hop back into a game and exact revenge, too.
- Requiring players to tweet out their scores to change skins is genius. That's part of how the game is getting out there, in front of so many eyeballs: there's a built-in incentive to tell other players about the game.
- The rainbow worm is the one true worm. All other worms are inferior and wrong.