REVIEW / Temple of Snek (PC)
Those of you that, like me, are of a certain age will remember having a mobile phone with the ability to play Snake. All you had to do was hit targets while your snake’s tail got longer and keep going for as long as you could without hitting yourself. On a phone that could do very little other than send the odd text message and make phone calls, this was pretty good at the time. Coming forward to the present some clever soul has decided to take this concept and turn it into an entire game I’ve been playing that game and mostly having a good time with it. The title is Temple of Snek, let’s see how I’ve been getting on.
So, before we go any further, I love the concept behind Temple of Snek. The idea of turning something that is in essence really very basic into a fully-fledged adventure with all the stunning graphics we’ve come to expect is a brilliant one. As the temple guardian, you must protect your home and its priests and priestesses from conquistadores and their minions who are hungry for gold. The more raiders you eat the bigger you get and this is where the Snake gameplay we know and love comes into play. If you hit anything, including your own tail, you’ll find yourself restarting the room you’re in. The temple’s rooms are also trapped against intruders and as you can imagine setting off a spike trap right under your own belly isn’t a good idea.
Temple of Snek, is partially Snake mechanics, part puzzle game, and part Metroidvania in that you won’t be able to access every area until you’ve learned a bit about your snake’s abilities. This mix of different elements makes for an interesting game that’s enjoyable and engaging. It takes a little bit to really get into the flow of gameplay, and I have to admit I struggle to acclimatize myself at the beginning but when I’d gotten into the swing of things I found myself having a lot of fun.
It’s really important to watch out for spikes.
There isn’t a huge amount to complain about with Temple of Snek but this title isn’t perfect, either. The first thing that I noticed that I found somewhat irksome is that it isn’t always easy to see which areas of a room are raised. Sometimes it looks like you should be dropping into a lower level when you’re actually running into a wall. As running into any object kills you and sends you back to the start of the room this is incredibly annoying. What’s even more annoying is that it’s surprisingly easy to do this after you’ve completed the puzzle you’ve been presented with or avoided a bunch of tricky traps. Being sent backward resets everything and if you happen to have had trouble getting to where you’ve just died, tough. This is not a forgiving game and for some of you out there I can see this being rage-inducing. To add to this if you happen to move into another area and die soon after completing the one you’ve just left you may get thrown back to the beginning of the previous room. This isn’t a massive problem because you’ll know what you need to do, but it’s still unnecessary repetition.
Adding to my last point is that you can’t always see what doors are open and which ones aren’t. This is a top-down game and it needs to be so you can see what you’re doing, but this means that sometimes you can only see the top of a door. The number of times I ran myself into closed doors thinking they were open I lost count. I think there needs to be something more to define what’s traversable and what isn’t. When colliding with any object sets you back it’s even more important to make these things clear.
Another problem with Temple of Snek is that sometimes it’s really quite difficult to figure out what you need to do to move onwards. You’ll see arrows painted on the ground and these definitely help but they aren’t always as clear as they could be in telling you what your next step needs to be. I actually got stuck in one room for over an hour because I couldn’t get a door open. It turned out it was just a case of hitting a couple of switches at the same time and this was pretty easy to accomplish. I couldn’t see this at first though and ended up needlessly backtracking. None of this is game-breaking but again, if I wasn’t a patient player I may have given up here out of frustration.
That sounded like an awful lot of moaning, but I’m not sure any of these annoyances are enough to really spoil the experience, it’s just me with my super-critical hat on. The gameplay is fun and as you journey further into the game and see different types of puzzles appear you’ll notice that it’s varied enough to make you want to keep coming back. The graphics are great and more importantly the music in this game is really well thought out. You’ll quickly notice that you’re moving with the rhythmic beats of the background music. If you can stay in this rhythm you’ll find it much easier to control your snake and also gauge where your tail is going. This is something that’s really important in avoiding traps.
Something else that’s nice is that you’ll get a snake designer and level designer bundled in with the game. It’s always fun being given the option to get creative when you’re playing so this is something that’s absolutely welcome. As a point of note, I wouldn’t use the level designer until you’re a good way into the game. You’ll be given tools that allow you to build puzzles from all parts of this title and you don’t want to ruin the game for yourself by being given spoilers to puzzles you haven’t seen yet.
All in all Temple of Snek is an interesting puzzler that’s addictive enough to make you want to keep coming back for more. Puzzles are varied and there is plenty being done to build on the core Snake mechanics so that nothing gets stale. Once you’ve got a good feel for what you’re doing and you get into the rhythm of things you’ll definitely want to keep coming back for more. Is this the perfect puzzle title? No, it’s not and there are a few minor things that I’ve mentioned that can make the experience frustrating sometimes. None of these are enough to ruin the experience though and this is still a solid addition to the libraries of puzzle fans looking for something a touch different.
Welcome to the temple!
A brilliant take on a classic theme
Temple of Snek isn’t perfect. There are one or two layout choices that can make navigating the temple a touch more difficult than it needs to be. This being said this is a brilliant thought-out puzzler that does some really interesting things with the Snake gameplay mechanic. Puzzle fans that are looking for a bit of a change would do well to give this title a try. At £10 on Steam it’s also really good value for money and that’s always something worth mentioning.