Friday, October 9, 2015

PC Review #129: Snakebird

Title: Snakebird
Developer: Noumenon Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $6.99
If there's one thing more satisfying than a tough puzzler, it's a seemingly simple puzzler surprising you with its secret depth and challenge. The minesweeper/picross hybrid Hexcells is probably the current poster child in that department, but I think Snakebird's charming cutesy facade usurps it. Because beneath the colorful aesthetic lies one devious puzzle game.
The basic idea is simple: you control a titular snakebird through each stage, eating fruit to unlock the exit. Each fruit you eat increases your length, like the classic Snake game. Sounds easy enough; you don't even have to worry about a game over if you run into your tail.

But very quickly Snakebird reveals its brain-breaking nature. Soon you're navigating cramped areas, carefully contorting your snakebird to reach platforms above and not fall into the surrounding abyss. Then you're moving around spikes, falling through portals, and pushing blocks. Each movement must be considered; thankfully you can easily undo a move if you find youself stuck.
And then on top of all those elements, the game plays its trump card: controlling multiple snakebirds. Puzzles can be tricky enough with merely one, but with several to move and twist, they gain a new level of complexity. Learning how the birds can interact is key to making sure you get all of them to the exit.

You can use birds as staircases or bridges across spikes for others. You can push one bird with another. Birds maintain their shape when falling from above or through portals, challenging you to consider how birds could mesh together from various angles.
Snakebird never evolves beyond moving and twisting those colorful birds, but uses that seemingly simple mechanic to deliver an incredibly tricky puzzler. A single puzzle could take an hour or more, but it's always satisfying to figure out the game's spatial challenges.

You can purchase Snakebird from Steam, Humble, and

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