I love it when video games get weird or otherwise defy convention, and that’s exactly what this freshman effort from developer Weird Beluga does. I don’t think I’ve ever played as a snail armed with sci-fi weaponry with vaguely soulslike gameplay. I’m grateful video games like this exist, even if they don’t always turn out for the best.
Clid The Snail is an isometric action adventure game with twin stick gunplay. You play as Clid, an ornery snail with the propensity to make firearms from discarded human technology. Humans, heralded by some as giants, are gone from the world. The various animals and bugs are the benefactors, with many creating a sort of cargo cult around the discarded remains of humanity. Animals congregate with their own kind in citadels, walled off from the dangers that lurk in the wilds. A danger intensified due to a plague among the slugs and other creatures causing them to become uncharacteristically aggressive. Clid is an outcast, kicked out by his kind for his propensity towards getting drunk and making weaponry. And he’ll need those guns to fight off all manner of foe, big and small.
Clid does have a good amount of weaponry at his disposal, and despite these weapons being effective against his foes, that power isn’t translated well to the player. Clid’s main weapon is a blaster that can charge up for a more powerful shot, but looks and sounds weak. Even the shotgun, which gibs enemies with its deadly cone of fire, sounds like a pea shooter. The sound design really makes the experience suffer. It doesn’t help that shooting guns doesn’t really feel that great, either. Clid The Snail suffers from lackluster combat all around. There is a roll dodge—it grants no i-frames, which is okay, but it’s also frustrating to use while firing. Moving, aiming, shooting, and dodging isn’t possible with the number of digits available.
It’s not just that gunplay doesn’t feel satisfying, the enemies you fight are never very interesting. Most of the time, Clid has to contend with enemies that run to him in a straight line. There are variations, however—some enemies will chuck objects at you from a distance, and there are the damage sponge large enemies—but that’s about it. Compounding problems with the enemies and the lackluster combat are the sections where you’re stuck fighting hordes of incoming enemies. These sections can go on for long stretches, and if you fail, you have to start from your last checkpoint. There are even several boss encounters that involve fighting waves of enemies, and I absolutely abhorred these sections. Enemies aren’t the only obstacle in Clid The Snail, however.
Clid The Snail is an action game, but it does have puzzle sections. Ironically, Clid The Snail’s product page boasts how you can’t shoot your way out of every situation, yet the puzzles you’ll have to navigate Clid through often involve shooting switches with a gun to turn lasers on and off. This is a puzzle mechanic that repeats throughout Clid The Snail, and while these puzzles are passable, they hardly ever come off as clever or even fun.
There are a lot of design decisions in Clid The Snail that are obviously influenced by games like Dark Souls. You have a certain number of healing items to replenish health, enemies drop a currency upon death that looks like souls, and there are even crystal lizard type enemies that will run away while dropping currency. Dandelions serve as checkpoints where you’ll respawn if you die. Unlike Dark Souls and the like, Clid The Snail is a mostly linear experience. There are some sections where you have to branch out, but it all returns to a linear path. There are reasons to explore every nook and cranny in Clid The Snail—but that’s mostly to find items for upgrades. But the visuals in Clid The Snail are so muddy, exploration is a bit of a drag.
One of my biggest gripes about Clid The Snail is its presentation. In screenshots Clid The Snail looks gorgeous—but its graphics are best described as muddy. I don’t know if it’s a post processing effect or something else, but Clid The Snail looks like someone smeared Vaseline on my screen. The character dialogue isn’t much better, with voices that are some of the worst affectations I’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to.
I was looking forward to Clid The Snail, but it’s just been a disappointment. I really like Weird Beluga’s take on a post human animal society, and while it looked like they had all the ingredients to make a great game, I’m disappointed with the muddy visuals, lackluster combat, uninteresting enemies, and repetitive puzzle design.
Clid The Snail is available today on PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam.
A PlayStation 4 key was provided to us for this review.
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