Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Temple of Snek (Steam) - Beta Review

 


Temple of Snek, developed by Aetheric Games and published by Pixeljam. Thank you for this early access review code. We've got a snake game that promises puzzle aspects involving rhythm and snake-length. What can we except? Click "read more" for my review.



Writing


The plot of this game is very simple. You control Snek, the giant snake guardian of a tomb that was summoned by some "stern priestesses" to eat the grave robbers. That's really it. People have come to steal the treasures of Snek's tomb and the priestesses would rather they didn't, so it's lunch time. No cutscenes or dialogue, this story is only told in the game's description. Nothing much in writing, but enough for a game like this.

Gameplay


Remember this classic game called Snake that you probably played on really old cell phones and has been re-skinned a bunch of times? Imagine, a spiritual successor this game with more depth, puzzles, and is actually beatable.





Temple of Snek has grid based gameplay that has a room by room structure for levels. Controls are simple, WASD or arrows to move around, R key to quickly reload the last checkpoint, and F key to fast forwards; or custom layout. Adjustable game speed.  The main objective is simply to eat the grave robbers and avoid traps as you advance through the crypt. It starts off very easy, but with each robber that Snek eats, it grows which makes maneuvering and puzzle solving gradually get trickier. It is actually a very balanced way to slowly increase the game's difficulty. 






There are a lot of simple mechanics at play that add to the puzzle element. The robbers that you eat will also kill you if they are next to any part of Snek's body other than the head. On the opposite side, there are robbers that hold up big shields that will kill Snek if coming contact with its head and cannot be eaten, but can be blogged by the body.




There are also height and water mechanics. Water is pretty simple, while Snek cannot swim, as long as at least one part of its body it touching land than you will not drown. The height aspect is more interesting. Amazingly, the game is not flat, you can cross any gap that Snek is longer than, and will not fall down any gap unless every part of its body is in air. This can allow Snek to actually move over itself.



There are unlimited lives and the game does a good job of avoiding softlocking with frequent checkpoints and allowing you to reload any of your 3 most recent checkpoints. However, the game is in desperate need of a hint system. Now, I enjoy a good puzzle, and a large chunk of this game can be solved through trial and error, but there are certain points where the objective is not clear. While the pause menu has a map that tries to tell you where to go, some of the button mechanics are confusing. 

Here is a brief moment of me failing as a gamer.

This was as far as I was able to get. I figured out that the circle and square button both trigger the spikes and will cancel each other out and even managed to get around them safely. But, I cannot figure out where I am supposed to go to.







Even safely reaching the room on the right, there is button that is a dead end that does not appear to do anything. The markings under the button imply that it will remove the spikes, but nothing. I tried every possible combination of buttons I could think of and nothing happens. 






Even managed to get myself in the room from the other side, but that second button also did nothing and I was in a dead end. Cannot say whether it is a glitch or if I am simply missing something obvious. I look forward to the day speed-runs of this game are out or even guides. Until then, I cannot go any further.





Most other modes are unavailable until the full game is released. However, gaining the achievement for returning to the first room will unlock Classic Mode. This is simply the original Snake, but with Snek graphics. Quite fun.




Overall, this is a great game for fans of puzzle gameplay. However, the lack of hint system and unclear goals will hold it back from appealing to the more casual audience that these indie games are most popular with. 

Audio


The music in this game is very fitting for a crypt; intense and dramatic. However, there is a glitch where the music will stop playing after too many continues and once it stops the game feels a lot more empty without it. Sound effects are all decent, from spikes to eating, everything sounds as it should. Passable.

Presentation


While I mentioned this game is a room to room structure, the crypt as a whole is very well designed. Rooms are all connected in one big design, often through different ways and the scale of everything feels quite big. There are even moments where you slither through narrow paths just to show it off.





Graphics are decent too. Obviously, they aren't going to hold up to any AA A title, but for what this game is they are charming and get the job done. They even have settings for violence; blood can be turned off, poop can only be turned on after it is unlocked. It all works.

Final Verdict


Snek is a great puzzle game, but has issues that are few, but noticeable. The lack of hint system and unclear goals can discourage those who don't excel at puzzle games. That being said, the game still has time to update and there is a lot of potential here. Snake is a game I think a lot of us have played in one form or another; be it an old cell phone or even on Neo Pets. I will be keeping my eye on this full release because these was a good idea. Overall, I do recommend this game for at least a quick look, but I won't blame you if you rage quit.

 Writing - 6/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Audio - 3/5
Presentation - 4/5

Overall - 7/10

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