After spending many an hour with Lost Snowmen, attempting to help them find their way off a god-forbidden planet and get home, I’ve one real takeaway – I just wish for them to get lost again. But you can be sure that if they do, I won’t be helping them a second time around.
Lost Snowmen from Half-Face Games and Silen Games is sold as a puzzle platformer with a story – a tale that focuses on the efforts of three alien snowmen attempting to find a way home. You see, they’ve crashed onto a strange planet – TR-4421, otherwise known as Earth – before discovering that it is rich with enough fuel to help them get home. It’s also home to many a Deserter; folk from their race who have seemingly taken it upon themselves to call this planet home. The problem is, if the earthlings discover these Deserters, their home planet of Pectus will no longer be a secret. Therefore, the Deserters must be destroyed.
The thing is, the story that the development team is trying to tell just doesn’t work. Not only have they tried to run a humorous angle (it’s not, by the way), but a whole ton of grammar and spelling mistakes mean it’s extremely tricky to follow. You can also throw in the fact that as the story is told through speech bubbles, the camera flicks all over the shop, trying to centralise on the character chatting. That would be fine, but there’s so much chat that after a little while, the flitting from here to there gets tiresome and nauseous. It’s not helped by the fact that you can’t skip the dialogue, left to take it in time and time again as you fail in your level objectives. Yes, Half-Face has included a switch in the menu system to turn off all dialogue, and doing so it makes Lost Snowmen an altogether easier-to-handle game, but that in turn seems to defeat the whole narrative objective in the first place.
When you can move away from the constant chatter, the puzzling aspect of Lost Snowmen is actually very good. Your task is to collect fuel that is scattered around each stage, before taking down and destroying any Deserter that you may come across. Each of the three lost snowmen having their own unique skills – Lord Fuse throws bombs, Hill has fists of steel and YoYo (the most annoying of the three) can jump up a level or two. Working as a team in order to navigate and traverse the stages can be tactically decent, particularly when you combine the skills of the trio as one; for instance utilising Hill’s power to put YoYo into a spin, ensuring he can be flung across gaping chasms, or filling up Hill with one of Fuse’s bombs, making him fly sky high.
It’s a shame then that at times, you’ll find yourself needing to restart levels, all after cornering your snowpeople into dead ends, unable to get out and reach the safe confines they need. Granted there’s not a single level in Lost Snowmen which will take you too long to complete – on the whole, the speedrunning timer that is in place points to just a few minutes for each – but having to restart and go through the mess of dialogue again really does grate.
There’s also very little in Lost Snowmen which could be seen as new. Pressure plates are standard fare, as is the pushing of blocks to create new pathways or to take down the odd Deserter or three. With moving platforms, ladders, springs and your everyday puzzle platforming mechanics in place, you’re never going to be wowed by what has been added in.
That puzzling is however better than the platforming mechanics, for these frustrate massively. Moving up and down ladders is an utter ballache, crouching down (or smearing as the dialogue suggests) is inconsistent and jumping into invisible ceilings, all as you misjudge a space, is commonplace. Lost Snowmen is certainly no pixel perfect platformer, coming across as slightly lazy at times. Hell, even when you find yourself doing ‘battle’ with some foes – a giant panda or grizzly bear, for the most part – throwing bombs or smacking them with your fists is hit and miss. As are those bears in their fight back – sometimes just walking away without a care in the world as you smash seven bells out of them.
For the negatives though, Lost Snowmen does deliver some decent visual changes to a number of levels. Multiple biomes are in place, but rarely do we see these provide anything different over a standard white hue for the Snowy Mountains, the browns and oranges of the Ancient Pyramid and the green vibrancy of the Amazing Island. It’s a bit of a shame that further biome themed mechanics haven’t been included here. Don’t expect those visuals and the graphical styles to wow you either; there’s nothing here that is going to push your uber-expensive console in any way.
There’s plenty of reason to spend time with these stages too, if only as each and every one of them have a variety of levels objectives. Picking up fuel and destroying a set number of Deserters are standard fare, but if you wish to put yourself up against the clock, doing so and trying to ‘100% Fuse’ it are all possible. Whether you would want to when the mechanics are dodgy is another matter.
There is one massive draw of Lost Snowmen though and that comes in the form of the Xbox achievement and Gamerscore system. Whilst many gamers play for fun, many more play for the rewards of Gamerscore. Silen Games have ensured that Lost Snowmen is one that should definitely be picked up if you’re in the Gamerscore camp. 1000G can be yours in mere minutes, with little skills required in order to pick any of it up. That may well appeal to many, but for us we’ve found it to be disappointing in regards to the low requirements needed for achievement maximisation. It probably means many will join these lost snowmen, take home the points they want and then totally dismiss the rest of the game.
Ultimately, it’s hard to knock a game too much when it comes to market with such a low asking price in tow, but a combination of dodgy platforming mechanics and an inane story sees Lost Snowmen melt without a trace. Grab it if you’re after some easy Gamerscore, but otherwise those lost snowmen should just go and, well, get lost.
Lost Snowmen is available from the Xbox Store