Are the puzzles hard? Yes. Are the puzzles necessary to be this hard? May be not.
I think the mechanic of the game is quite interesting. Since the concept of “snake” game originate in 1976, and became very popular when it distributed with Nokia phones. I bet almost everyone, if not all, played it once. So eating fruits to extend your body (and avoid hitting your tail) is just natural. However, combining with the gravity and the game starts to became frustrated. Especially when there are spikes and pitfalls everywhere. Thus, force players to plan ahead on how to go from one place to another, which is not bad for puzzle game actually. But the seemingly incomprehensible gravity does screw up the plan so easily. Also the planning part will not really go that far, since imagine the shape of those mostly-snake-only-bird-head after being pull down by gravity multiple times are practically impossible1. Hence, traditional planning that’s go from start to finish is often unviable. Therefore, player have to think backward from finish to start instead. Which is quite a smell puzzle design, because it’s likely required players to guess what’s the puzzle developers want us to exactly solve the puzzles. Instead of walking along with the players and show “hay, by our propose mechanic, we discover this cool puzzle”, and let the players look at it from other angle if they can solve them, whether it the intended way or not.
Yeah, by fine tuning those puzzles, some offer strong revelations. But most of the time I find frustration instead. So… maybe Snakebird is a cleaver puzzle game with a big NO?
Think of Western Chess, how many moves can you plan ahead? 3, 5, 8? That’s not really large number since the pieces move around and influence each others so much. Compare to Eastern Go, how far? 10 moves are natural for beginners! Maybe up to 30 moves for professional. Why? Because exist pieces stayed the same places and only new pieces added to the board. Thus, the complexity of planning lies in the strategy, not the mechanic itself. Well, Sokoban, which is another hard yet similar game to Snakebird, is still offer a very far planning since there’s no annoying gravity to pull everything around unintended! ↩
Originally published on: Steam