Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Review: Snuggle Truck

Remember a while ago when I said I was writing a feature article for The Escapist? Well that completely died out of its own ass when my hypothesis didn't pan out at all. Anyway I'm back and feeling just the slightest bit jaded so I thought I'd quickly review a game I actually liked.

Snuggle Truck is a 2D driving/racing game developed by Owlchemy Labs. It stood out to me because Owlchemy Labs worked with Dejobaan Games in making "AAAAaaaAA! For the Awesome", semi-sequel to "AAAAaaaaAA! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity" and one of my favourite indie games ever made ever.  The premise is that you're driving a pickup truck full of stuffed animals to the zoo. The objective is to get there as fast as possible while making sure the animals aren't thrown off the truck. There's a button to go forward, a button to slow down, and buttons to angle yourself left or right. Along the way you can catch fuzzies (which count as extra animals) and there's powerups too. You could take this to be a good thing or a bad thing but those three sentences are pretty much all there is to say about the gameplay. I've always been a fan simplified game mechanics, especially in indie games because it means the developers can focus their precious little time and resources on expanding the game beyond the core rather than faffing about with the mechanics too much and then being forced to copy-paste things to extend the gameplay time. The level design is good, scaling the challenge well from start to finish (I still haven't unlocked the very last level that requires you to get every medal), though surely they could've made more than three backdrops? It's a short game so that's not too much of a problem, but by the end you will notice it.

Minor problems aside, when you have a good, functional game like this it's the little things that make it stand out from the crowd, and Snuggle Truck performs well in that area. It's absolutely adorable from start to finish, from the title to the colorful visual design to the mini cheers and trumpets as you catch fuzzies and cross the finish line. And all of this makes you feel like an absolute bastard when they fall out of the truck, with a mournful squeaking noise as the camera slows down and zooms in on the frozen expression on the face of the last animal to hit the ground. This kind of emotional tugging is what really makes a game stick in your mind (would Portal have been anywhere near as popular if GLaDOS was lacking a sarcasm core?)

So basically, this is a great little game to pick up and play. Simple addictive gameplay with great framing and personality. And I'm going to try and start reviewing games released more recently, now that I've got another job and can actually afford to buy things just because they look intriguing. Maybe if I do that enough I'll get my first follower sometime soon.

Until next time.

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