STAFF REVIEW of Will You Snail (Xbox One)

Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Will You Snail Box art If you’re a fan of rage inducing platformers such as Celeste, Super Meat Boy or VVVVVV, developer Jonas Tyroller has been working on a new game the last few years, interestingly dev-blogging the whole process, and now has finally released Will You Snail?. Yes, it’s a question, but also the game’s title. Challenging platformers aren’t hard to find, but certain ones like the titles listed above stand out and are memorable for one reason or another. I’ll be honest, I was expecting another typical platformer that I’d forget as soon as I was done with it, but Will You Snail has so much personality and uniqueness to it that even days after completion I still laugh at some of its humor.

‘Explore. Run. Jump. Die. Repeat.’ That’s one of Will You Snail’s taglines, basically summing up its experience perfectly. Fast paced and hard as nails, you’ll be tasked with reaching the end in each room you’re challenged with, trying to ignore the AI that’s constantly berating you and figure out what has happened. If you’re a fan of bright neon colors, infuriating challenges, light puzzle solving, fourth wall breaking and a hilarious AI that taunts you every chance it gets, well, Will You Snail is something you’re going to want to check out.

Set in a simulation within some sort of virtual world or computer, you play as Shelly the Snail as you try and escape from the evil AI that constantly taunts and tries to kill you along the way, known as Squid. Squid will constantly be following you, appearing as an ominous ASCII face on the screen that emotes and berates you every chance he gets, hoping to see you die and fail. While your apparent main goal is to somehow escape, it’s not clear why you’re here, why you’re a snail and why Squid hates humanity so much. Tidbits of story are revealed here and there, but the bulk of the background lore is given in piecemeal as you find pillars that unlock small portions of the overall narrative.

It’s completely up to you if you want to search out these pillars to unlock small bites of the story, but they don’t come in order, so you’ll need to try and collect all fifty if you want to piece together what happened and why. Squid constantly breaks the fourth wall, which I always find hilarious, and he’s such an intelligent AI that he’s able to predict where you’re going to jump and move to next, so will constantly try and place traps in those spots to kill you. You’re going to die many times, but death is just a minor setback, starting at the beginning of the room you’re currently on without any wait.

You don’t speak, I mean, you’re a snail, so how could you? Squid on the other hand has tons of spoken lines of dialogue, usually insulting you or making fun when you die over and over. Even though Will You Snail is a solo game, you don’t ever really feel alone, as Squid is always there trying to predict your moments and stop you, making sure you know about it. Lines are also never repeated which is an impressive feat, and some are so specific it’s remarkable. For example, I died in one spot and he laughed at me. I of course died in the exact same spot and he snickered telling me that I’m a dumb human playing this game since I died in the exact spot right away again and didn't learn my lesson.

Left, Right and Jump, that’s all you need to know for the controls. It doesn’t get much simpler, and being a platformer, the rest of the mechanics and tricks are taught along the way. Platforming games can be a constant frustration if the controls aren’t snappy and precise. Thankfully this isn’t the case with Will You Snail, as all my deaths were completely my fault, nothing I can blame the controller or poor controls for. You’re a snail that’s able to double jump but you’ll need quick reflexes to sometimes outsmart yourself, because remember, Squid predicts where you’re going to be in a moment and tries to place traps in those spots.

Are you a fan of challenge? Are you one of those types of players that prides itself on beating games on their hardest difficulty? I bet you’ll have a hard time completing Will You Snail on the Easy difficulty. This is where some of the game’s humor starts to show, because the difficulty choices are actually Easy, Very Easy, Extremely Easy and Infinitely Easy. So naturally, Easy difficulty is actually the hardest one, but can be quite a brag if you’re able to do so. Squid is smart enough that the difficulty will also adjust on the fly based on your performance. Began out on Infinitely Easy but start to do too well? You’ll probably get bumped up a difficulty or two to compensate. This can of course be turned off for the AI to automatically decide for you on the fly, but it’s a great feature to keep a constant challenge without being constantly punishing at the same time. Even on the sections that I died dozens of times I never really become frustrated as each room is small enough and Squids one liners were always amusing, even if he questioned my manhood more than once.

Because of Squid’s AI trying to constantly predict your movements, no two playthroughs of a level is the same, as you most likely are going to try new tactics after a death. It’s quite impressive to think about the work that went on behind the scenes to predict movement from the player, so kudos for such a mechanic in a seemingly basic game like this. Outwitting Squid is sometimes more important than trying to get through a level quickly. For example, in one boss fight I had to hit a certain amount of switches, but kept dying until I realized he was learning my pattern. So I had to switch things up, waiting beside the buttons until some lasers fired before jumping onto the button and trying to be a little sporadic instead of moving in a straight and steady line.

While there’s a few boss fights, these were the highlight outside of the constant beratement towards me, which I always found hilarious. These bosses usually filled the screen and was a great change of pace to challenge yourself with some creative designs, my favorite being the massive spider that slowly crawls after you where you need to shoot its legs and body. Yes, sometimes you’ll find rooms that have turrets that will attach to your shell and fire automatically in a certain direction. This plays into some puzzle rooms and add some minor combat sections.

There are also optional puzzles you’ll find. These aren’t too challenging, but add some longevity and are completely optional if you simply want to progress. You’re able to go back to the level select at any time and go back to find hidden paths and collectables, even replay levels on higher difficulties. There’s also a few unique sections and levels where you might race against a tadpole in the water, maybe play some tower defense or even try and bounce a square “ball” into the net to progress.

I’ll admit, there was one point where I needed a break from dying so much in a single level, so I went to quit out so I could come back later, only to find I’m given the option to quit to the main menu or choose the “I’m Frustrated” mode. Choosing this takes away all frustration and has you collecting smiley faces that float around the level. Collect a certain amount of points and you level up. Why? There’s no reason, simply to be more relaxing. Again, proof of the humor within and so asinine that I couldn’t help but smile and laugh, ironically getting me to play for another half hour when I originally wanted to quit. If you’re into speedrunning, Will You Snail embraces this as well, giving a number of options to assist, and I’d love to watch some speedruns of this in the future.

Will You Snail is visually appealing with its simple retro neon-filled style, and while it may be a basic sprite style aesthetic, there are certain elements that are impressive, like when Squid tries to make levels harder by placing a feint overlay on the screen or changes the background to being in space, making it much harder to see the platform lines. If you’re susceptible to epilepsy seizures you might way to check out a trailer before delving in, but there are a ton of options to tone down some of the features and effects.

The soundtrack is quite decent, having some tunes that had me bopping my head (and is available to download from the developer for free) as I concentrate and try to not die for the twentieth time in a row, but the highlight was easily Squid’s dialogue throughout. The writing is hilarious and because it’s voiced so well it adds such a personality, especially since lines aren’t repeated over and over like in most games.

It’s clear that Will You Snail was a passion project and it shows with the final product full of creativity and hilarity. It might seem a little steep at its regular $15 price point initially, there’s a ton of replayability and extra collectables to find to challenge even the best platformer fans. If you simply want to see the credits roll you can easily make that happen in a few hours, but trying to beat the game on Easy will add a much larger time commitment. Yes it’s hard, yes you’re a snail trying to outsmart a hilarious AI and yes I died a few hundred times, but I enjoyed it throughout. The only question left is, Will You Snail?

**Will You Snail? was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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