Snakebird is the most devious puzzle game out at the moment, and I'm not even engaging in filthy gen-Y hyperbole. Sure, other puzzle games are hard. But this one looks like it should be easy. Look at those cartoony graphics. Those simple controls. By watching a few seconds of its trailer, you instantly get how it works. But it's probably the hardest game I'll play all year, and I'm counting Bloodborne as well as the demo for Dark Souls 3.
When I first saw it, I actually assumed it was a mobile game ported to PC. (To be fair, its controls are perfect for a touch screen and the devs should make that happen.) It just oozes that casual puzzle look that says "Play me for 20 minutes and you'll see all my tricks! I'll hold your hand the whole way! Share me on Facebook for 100 virtual coins! I'll shower you with praise and feel-good noises before revealing microtransactions!"
I couldn't be more wrong.
There are no microtransactions. There are no good feelings, other than when you finally get past a level after 30 minutes. That's about as long a stretch I can take of Snakebird before I have to take a break because my tired brain not think so good now.
It's effectively Snake, with gravity applied to the Y-axis. Fruit must be collected before the end of each level. Spikes must be avoided. Later on, you'll tab through control of multiple snakes, each building on each other and pushing each other into position before taking the portal out.
The situations you can work yourself into are comically precarious, and often you'll worm your way around an obstacle or ledge before realising...
Luckily, you can press Backspace to rewind through each individual move until you're ready to start snaking and/or birding again. I'm almost done with it now. Some of these levels are downright dastardly, and I don't think a puzzle game has ever gotten my brain to think in this unique way before.
Kotaku's own Patrick Klepek put up a video of the game, though it never actually made it onto the site. You can watch that here:
Alright Mr Blow, you can calm down now. We've reached a quota of one. Feel free to divide without creating a black hole.
Number of Kotaku articles even mentioning Snakebird: zero. Not as extreme a ratio as Polygon, except, well, 0/N is 0 regardless of N (N!=0).
— Jonathan Blow (@Jonathan_Blow) June 2, 2015
Also, less tweeting and more releasing The Witness. I'm jonesing for it, man.
Check out Snakebird on Steam here.