While reviewing most titles, I think it would be fair to say that seeing the product to its completion is generally expected (well, durr). There have been a few occasions during my experience reviewing games where I’ve come to a sticking point in a title and stressed over whether or not I’d physically be able to progress – more often than not, of course, I muscle through. In the case of Snowflake’s Chance, however, I say without an ounce of shame that this was never going to happen. I gave the game a good shot, but simply reached a point where my skills and patience ended.

Was this a surprise to me? Not really, to be fair. I’m not without talent when it comes to challenging games, but Snowflake’s Chance takes pride in being tough – where reaching the end of the game is the ultimate challenge, and the threat of starting all the way over again is very real. It’s a factor that will delight some, and outright repel others, and one that works to the game’s credit and disservice.

Snowflake’s Chance is sort of a tower platformer. A game where you, a sweet innocent bunny rabbit, are engulfed by the earth one day and fall to its fiery centre. It’s your challenge, therefore, to climb your way back out.

Levels run into each other vertically – hence my ‘tower platformer’ description – and you must make your way through the various dangers, and over the jumps and traps in order to progress. Unfortunately for us, this level set-up also means it’s entirely possible to fall back down to previous areas if you’re unlucky, and the game is a constant drive to get higher and higher – closer to the surface once more.

Typically this involves some treacherous platforms and long leaps, but also a host of more gruesome and active dangers. The environments are filled with pits of lava, spikes that you can fall and impale yourself on, and holes that shoot fire intermittently. Obviously it’s best to avoid all of these things, but miss-time a jump, slip while climbing up a platform, or don’t keep a good eye on where you’re going and you will find yourself ended by one of these traps.

There are also a host of creatures to contend with. Patrolling the depths of the earth are bats, giant warthog-type beasts, evil hamsters, ghosts, and all manner of other nasties with a taste for bunny blood. You have health and can upgrade and replenish it by consuming plants, however it’s mostly a case of one or two hits till death. Snowflake is capable of attacking foes as well, but the best option is clearly just to avoid or hide when enemies approach, and even if you do land a strike on a foe, this will do nothing but stun them briefly.

A constant and growing threat in the game is your evil spirit. Essentially, the more you die, the more frequent or powerful it will become, thus showing up and pestering you more and more. It’s an interesting idea, though perhaps a bit unfair, considering how difficult the game already is. It’s another hostile element that you have to keep an eye out for – something else that can kill you or knock you about.

The areas aren’t just filled with hostile critters, though, and you will find some that can be of use to you. Other animals have also shared the same fate as Snowflake, and are trapped in this awful place. Unfortunately for them, Snowflake’s treatment of them isn’t much better than the spawns of hell, as he gobbles them up, spits them out again, jumps on their heads, and uses them to distract enemies. He’s actually pretty cruel to them, and essentially little puppies and frogs are a means of sacrifice to avoid getting yourself killed. You can fire frogs at enemies, causing them to be stunned, and puppies can be bounced on to reach higher areas, and used as a delicious snack for any gribbly you are trying to get past. You can carry a few of them around with you which is useful – with Snowflake’s storage of choice being his belly (you swallow them).

In addition to the various plants and other collectables around, these critters combine to give you buffs. Have a few critters stored on you and might get a power boost or more health. It’s ultimately negligible, but I suppose every little helps. When you can die in just a couple of hits, having one more bit of health is literally a life saver.

The levels themselves contain multiple areas to explore, with some leading to a way up, and others to secrets and useful items/upgrades. Not only does this provide a more interesting experience in weighing the risk of exploration against potential rewards, but also different ways of approaching your goal. Maybe you don’t want to risk going past some enemies, so take a slightly longer route around them. Considering the areas are actually quite small, this makes them feel less constricted.

So that’s the essentials of the gameplay, but how does it all play out in practice? Unfortunately, not as well as it should – as you might have guessed if you scrolled down to the score. The game clearly prides itself on being a challenge, but I feel it goes a bit too far. On top of your character’s general feebleness and the countless hazards to avoid, there’s also a limit on retries. It’s a nice healthy number – 99 to be precise – but that can be whittled down surprisingly quickly. It creates tension, that’s for sure, but I found it to be more frustrating than anything else – the difficulty and inconvenience of restarting at earlier checkpoints would have been enough, I feel.

That in itself is a rather subjective criticism, as I’m sure some hard-core platforming fans will relish the challenge, however that brings me to the main problem with the game in relation to its difficulty – the controls and platforming are simply not tight enough. Games like Super Meat Boy are notorious for their challenge, but praised for precision of control. It’s all well and good if your game provides a challenge that you need to be more skilled in order to beat – time your jumps better, pick up your reflexes – but with Snowflake’s Chance, things feel sloppy, and there were a fair few times that I died and thought “that was bullshit”. Snowflake seems to find it difficult to climb, jumping up and clambering up ledges is often a trial, and your movement generally feels kind of slippery. It’s an issue that diminishes the enjoyment of the game, and combined with the brutal nature of the title it creates a bigger problem.

The game doesn’t exactly encourage you either, calling you an idiot at every turn – including one situation where you pull a lever and it just kills you – which is a shame, because it seems a stark contrast to the goal of the game. Sure, it’s brutal, which springs to mind obnoxiousness, but you’re trying to help this creature escape hell, and I didn’t feel there was much drive to do so.

My experience with the game was fairly negative – as I’ve described – however that’s not to say it doesn’t hold its own in some respects, nor that it’s impossible to find enjoyment from it. It has a unique aesthetic – hand drawn and quirky animations add a certain charm – and its concept, though frustrating to me, is certainly interesting. The game stands out from a crowd of other indie platforming adventures. But whether or not that’s enough to make up for its frustrations is another matter. I think that is going to depend strongly on your tolerance for brutality. Obviously those who want a real challenge will enjoy this more than those who don’t, but I still think they will be a tad disappointed by the game’s lack of precision. For a reasonable price I’d say it’s worth the risk, otherwise I’d save yourself the anger.



Author

John Little
John Little

I started gaming with the release of the PS1 - Crash Bandicoot and Ridge Racer Revolution being the first 'real' games I ever set eyes on - and have been enthralled with the medium ever since. I particularly love strategy and horror games, the sort offered by titles such as Total War and Silent Hill, though I also have a soft spot for a good RPG. I studied Journalism at university in the hopes of progressing into writing about games, but my 'real job' is as a postman. You'll most likely find me covering indie games as I'm always on the look out for interesting little titles, and generally I stick to the PC and PS4 platforms. I'm not interested in MMOs or really any kind of online game, and I have an unusual and frankly worryingly expensive obsession with collecting gaming guide books, but aside from that I like to think I'm a well rounded average gamer. Find me on twitter @JohnLittle29