I’m sure we all have memories of certain platformers which have put our skills (and patience) to the test. I’m still scarred by my experience reviewing Super Meat Boy Forever not so long ago, feeling mentally and physically exhausted afterwards. Will You Snail is a platformer which falls into this camp, but with a few twists on the feared formula.
The game is set in a virtual world (or simulation) where you play as Shelly the Snail who is being constantly pursued and targeted by the evil AI known as Squid. As you play, there are numerous information points which give some insight into the world of Will You Snail. These are in the form of a conversation between two characters, which gradually get more and more stark, eventually revealing a threat to the entirety of humanity itself. Heavy.
To be fair, I didn’t find the story overly engaging, however it does provide some clarity into what on earth is happening in Will You Snail. This is because you’re thrown straight into the neon lit, strobing, digital world and left to find your own way whilst Squid the AI is accompanying you with plenty of trash talk for good measure. Will You Snail is certainly eye-catching. The colourful, retro presentation style is straight out of the arcade cabinet and reminds a lot of Geometry Wars.
Your little snail can zip from side to side, double jump and fall quickly for accurate placement. That’s it really. The controls are simple but support the feel of Will You Snail, which is essentially a quickfire platformer where death only resets you to the start of the current level (or what’s on your screen).
Squid is an interesting character, as his purpose is to provide a running commentary on your progress throughout Will You Snail, whilst trying to amuse himself by killing you in various ways. It’s a really well realised character, with dialogue that matches what happens to you during play really effectively. Rather than its lines feeling like a random choice from a pre configured list, they are tailored to your progress. For example, it will draw attention to how many times you’ve died, if you die in the same spot several times, if you don’t move at all for a period of time and so on.
As well as this, Squid is also there to taunt and goad you. This involves all sorts of sarcastic and insulting comments, usually referring to how terrible you are at the game as you die repeatedly. This is a risky strategy, as the difficulty can make the game something of a stressful experience. Will You Snail aims to strike the balance between an old school platforming challenge and keeping the player motivated to carry on through humour and another saving grace.
The main way Will You Snail attempts to balance things is by constantly shifting the difficulty. The names of the four options are all variations of “easy”, just to insult you even further. The difference here is that you can amend the difficulty at any point (you’ll mostly be lowering it) to help you beat a certain level. If you fly through them too easily, Squid will increase the difficulty in an attempt to slow your progress.
There are a fair few levels to play through, with many hiding secret areas and collectible items which burst with light when you collect them. If you head back out of the level to the left of your screen, you will be taken back to the level select area. Here you can see exactly which you have completed, and on what difficulty along with hints if there is more to be discovered within that level.
However, as each level is only a single screen, Will You Snail is a pretty short game, unless you stick it out on the highest difficulty. Even when I did complete the game, I had no urge to backtrack and try to beat the levels on the higher difficulties or find all the secrets. It was one of those games which, once complete (despite my save file not showing anywhere near 100% on the menu screen), I was pretty much done with. Make no mistake, I enjoyed Will You Snail whilst it lasted, but one playthrough will probably feel enough, having experienced everything you’ll want to.
There are five “worlds” in effect, each with some different gameplay variants such as shooting, moving around underwater and dodging platforms littered with spikes to name a few. Away from the challenge levels, you are tasked with some more relaxed platforming, alongside optional puzzles where you need to link light towers together to open barriers which are guarding more collectibles. None of these are particularly original, but add some welcome variety to the gameplay. At the end of each world, you will have to face off against a boss character in order to progress. My favourite of these encounters was facing off against a machine in a game of Pong. It was perhaps the most simple boss battle, but much more fun than running, shooting and dodging projectiles.
Will You Snail is an interesting addition to the “hard as nails” platformer collection. On the one hand, it provides a real challenge for those sadists who enjoy this sort of thing and has an intriguing central character in the AI enemy, Squid. Developer Jonas Tyroller has done a cracking job here, alongside the fluctuating difficulty mechanic which works both negatively and positively in favour of the player.
However, being repeatedly mocked, taunted and sabotaged is an approach which won’t strike a chord with all players. If it’s the case that the key to victory is continually dialling down the difficulty, this suddenly takes some of the sense of achievement out of proceedings. It really depends on what you are seeking from a game such as Will You Snail.
The neon-clad battle for survival between an adorable snail and a killer AI gives Will You Snail something of a distinctive feel. However, ultimately, you will need to be a talented, patient platformer fan to get the most from it.
Will You Snail is on the Xbox Store