Snapshot – What We Think
Snapshot is the latest offering from developers Retro Affect, best known for Depict1 and for the previous work of team member Kyle Pulver – Offspring Fling working here with programmer David Carrigg.
At a glance Snapshot promises an appealing level of aesthetic polish that surpasses both of the aforementioned titles. While this alone is impressive, what really sets the game apart is the compelling gameplay mechanic that Snapshot sets out with.
Snapshot is a platform/puzzler starring a rather adorable little robot called Pic. Using an apparently magical camera (controlled by the mouse cursor in the PC version of the game) Pic can photograph objects in the environment, removing them from the world temporarily, and then place that image back into the world at another location. Using this tool you can move objects from place to place in order to progress through levels.
Initially you could be forgiven for worrying that this gameplay mechanic is in danger of becoming tedious and gimmicky; the first few stages generally just require you to photograph blocks and place them under high ledges so you can get up. Thankfully, once you push past the earlier tutorial levels Snapshot begins to build on the magic camera concept in some interesting ways and the learning curve gets a tad steeper.
As it grows in difficulty, Snapshot really starts to come into its own. The photography system is deepened by the ability to rotate images, positioning objects at the correct alignment to achieve your goals. There are, for example, several puzzles that make use of springs that must be rotated to a diagonal position to launch you to hard to reach areas.
Levels also include areas which prohibit photography, forcing you to find a way of moving objects in those areas out to where you can snap them up. The attributes of the many photographable elements themselves further expand the gameplay: elephants, for example, are surprisingly springy, providing a mobile trampoline to launch yourself to high areas, they also march across the screen pushing anything in their way to the side.
Momentum of objects is also maintained when you photograph them, allowing you to grab a ball rolling down a hill and then release it in another direction to knock over a troublesome obstacle. It is this impressive selection of variations that keeps the core gameplay interesting. Even the backgrounds are put to use in a particularly clever puzzle variant. Considering how simple the notion of basically copying and pasting world objects is, Retro Affect have done a great job of keeping it fresh and interesting throughout the game.
There are some familiar platforming gameplay elements in Snapshot that help to keep the game grounded in its genre. Levels include a bundle of collectible stars that count towards a total along with one hidden item that must be photographed and taken to the finish to collect. An award can also be gained for completing each stage in under a specific time. This all helps to give Snapshot some longevity beyond finishing the levels themselves.
Despite the fairly drab opening levels, the puzzles scale in difficulty quite well and you’ll soon find yourself challenged by the brain teasers on offer. The art and design of Snapshot is simply beautiful, from the stunning backgrounds to the incredibly cute elephants. The combination of disarmingly soft world art and laid back music helps to create a relaxing atmosphere in even the more frustrating puzzles.
With over a hundred levels spread across four environment types there is more than enough to do in Snapshot. While the puzzles themselves do get off to a slow start, the game soon begins to make surprisingly broad use of what is a reasonably basic core gameplay concept. Altogether Snapshot makes for an enjoyable array of puzzles set in an attractive world that easily draws you back for more.