Snakes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game that you might know from rainy childhood afternoons. Somebody is turning it into a first-person shooter, because of course they are.
Snakes-N-Ladders: Origins — Episode 1 is the game’s full name, and it’s really… something. The original board game is a playable metaphor for life, a path fraught with virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes). The video game is, well, this:
“Now, if this is the origin story of an ancient board game,” you might be wondering, aloud, dazed and feeling as though you’ve been sucked into some otherworldly dream cloud, “why are there guns and space portals?” I present to you The Plot:
Millions of years ago there waged a devastating war between humans and reptilians for control over the galaxy. Knowledge of this war has been passed down the ages and now exists in the form of a board game which is played to this date.
I can’t tell whether this is tongue-in-cheek or not. I do know one thing, though: it doesn’t look particularly fun. Shooting rapidly approaching ground enemies is the annoying part of many other FPSes, and here it looks like the focus of the game. Maybe the developers have figured out how to make it great, but I’m not counting on it.
So there we go. There is that. Yeah.
But hey, did you know that Snakes and Ladders has a long and storied history going back centuries, spanning countless iterations and evolving through multiple cultures largely thanks to appropriation and British imperialism? It’s a fascinating case study in the many ways that a game can persist through time, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. It’s well worth looking into as everything from a cautionary tale, to an example to follow, to something that’s just cool to know about. I suppose Snakes-N-Ladders: Origins is another rung on that ladder, but I think we’re looking at a historical footnote (at best) rather than the next evolution.