Created by solo developer Jonas Tyroller, Will You Snail? is essentially a frustration inducing platformer that takes players through a series of increasingly difficult and demanding platforming levels as the seemingly undeterred and silent protagonist Shelly the Snail. Your efforts throughout are put to the test by the evil A.I. mastermind Squid, who from the very start of the game all the way through to the end is a constant thorn in the side and looks to relentlessly bring death to your efforts at every possible opportunity.
Unlike many other platformers you’ll play, Will You Snail? looks to bring a new refreshing and unique mechanic to things by having the A.I. attempt to predict your next movements. How this is done I can’t even hope to understand but the end result seen on screen is one which impresses a lot with interruptions present every time you attempt to complete each of the standard point to point levels.
For the first few levels, things remain rather calm with banterous comedic put-downs being thrown about from the evil A.I. Squid, but once you’ve been allowed time to get accustomed to the sheer basics of play such as jumping moving, things very quickly begin to ramp up, both in terms of pace and undeniable difficulty.
Like many other skill-based platformers each of the many playable levels are short in length with the challenge coming from how to make it to the end rather than how long it takes to do so. There are five biomes or worlds spread throughout and with each one comes new challenges, be that lasers, spikes or any of the other deadly traps that seem to make up any given level, as well as different types of levels. Some focus on platforming, some on challenges, whilst others focus more on puzzles.
As you’d expect with such a game, dying is something you will soon become used to. My time with the game saw many levels taking between 10-20 deaths before I had just the right amount of luck and skill to push me through to the end of whichever level I found myself stuck on, with many more deaths added into the mix should you look to explore enough to find all the collectables and secret areas hidden throughout too.
The reason for the difficulty mainly comes down to hazard placement with the A.I. said to predict where you as a player will attempt to move next. Whilst it’s hard to say that the A.I. learns the individual, it’s obvious from watching family members who took the controller from me before I broke it that all the predictable movements you’d expect someone to make are covered fairly quickly with a newly spawned hazard each time, meaning to get through to the end you’ll need to brush up on reaction times as quickly as possible unless you want to find yourself stuck in a never-ending loop of death.
To keep the continuous failings from becoming stale and tiresome, there has been a big effort put into the comedic value of the game’s antagonist. Each death is usually met with humorous sarcasm and witty comments, most of which attempt to be a put down on the player without being too demeaning, and it must be said it works well, as more often than not I’d be pushing on through a level just to see what the next comments would be.
As you progress, small snippets of information are drip-fed from the A.I. to help piece together just what is going on and why it is happening, and the overarching goal that appears obvious from the off is the classic and overly popular intention of wanting to rule the world.
Whilst difficulty is a key mechanic within the game, accessibility is important and there is the option to increase or decrease the difficulty at any time, however again reaching into the comedic interests of players, the antagonist is also capable of increasing or decreasing the difficulty too, with remarks of boredom and doubt when you are dying too much before the difficulty is lowered for you, whilst progressing too quickly will see further comments met by the difficulty being raised.
This is a fantastic feature that we don’t see enough in games, with each player getting a gameplay experience that feels truly tailored to the individual skill level rather than an expectancy for every player to be at the same level.
Another important gameplay aspect to speak of is the bosses or enemies in general and how you fight them, with multiple bosses to fight and each one bringing a unique battle. One of the elements of the game is that of your attack with Shelly’s eyes seemingly capable of firing shots off given the right opportunity from A.I. Squid, but doing this usually has a caveat to it as well. For example, one such fight will see any missed shots that don’t make direct contact instead attacking the surrounding scenery, which can then cause blocks to fall onto the floor and destroy that too, often forcing the player to then jump around and be watchful of what you are making contact with to avoid falling into spikes below. However, with no way of pausing or ceasing fire manually, the chances of avoiding additional hazards such as this are near impossible, creating yet another difficult skill-based battle, and with most bosses being fought in confined spaces, this can make for interesting gameplay.
Whilst the hazards are plentiful, and the objectives are obvious, nothing ever works well in a platformer unless everything runs like a well-oiled machine, and further complimenting what is a simple, yet fantastic gaming experience is the responsive and fluid controls. Character movement never feels delayed and with instant responses to button input, there really is very little blame for misadventure throughout the game than that of your own skill level.
Away from the gameplay, and visually Will You Snail? is a basic yet pleasant effort with the 2D world often displaying a barrage of different bright neon colours at one time, with some levels using such design choices to seemingly distract the player and attack the senses. Some of the game’s design also appears to be in 2.5D with different effects taking place on screen around you whilst you play, but there is certainly no lack of distinctive attention-grabbing visuals as you make your way to the end.
As for the sound design, the main audio focus came from the robotic voice of the A.I. antagonist Squid, but look past that and you can find a soothing and unobtrusive soundtrack teetering along in the background which is also pleasing to listen to should you be paying attention to it, although it must be said the key focus of any player will be that of Squid.
Overall, whilst the story itself isn’t that impressive, the banterous nature of the antagonist, the clever mechanics and the accessible nature to things easily help make Will You Snail? one of the best platform games available in recent years. With a 5-6 hour playtime, varying slightly on skill level, this isn’t one of the longest titles for your money but the experience is certainly well worth it should you have some spare cash laying around and want something a bit refreshing rather than the usual run of the mill platform adventure.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.