Snorms – What We Think:
Snorms may look like a fairly simple idea at first; the game provides an isometric perspective and features run and gun gameplay fused with RPG qualities to form a concept not dissimilar to other isometric shooters we’ve seen (Realm of the Mad God comes to mind). But after only a short time with the game, or a quick read of the developer’s intentions, it becomes clear that Snorms sets out with a more lofty goal: to recapture the atmosphere of the classic Doom games from an isometric perspective and with modern RPG elements.
Before we look at how well Snorms has achieved this goal we must first see if it is enjoyable in its own right. The game provides a healthy variety of options and special game modes that can be unlocked–the destructible environment option offered for finishing the game is of particular note. On top of this there is also a map editor available from the get go, although this looks like it would take a little time to get used to.
Snorms is divided into three chapters with only the first available from the start of the game. Each chapter has a map with selectable missions spread across it; completing each mission unlocks the next. The gameplay itself is a well balanced combination of exploration and combat. The former is highlighted by hidden rooms and areas only accessible once certain weapons have been obtained. You can return to levels you’ve already completed after gaining new equipment and so either loot the level again for more money or seek out destroyable walls.
The combat is surprisingly fun and there is a fair selection of enemies to fight (twenty-two in total). Tactics for battling these foes vary, keeping things interesting. Some enemies fire heat-seeking projectiles while others launch a wide spread of fire. It can get a little tricky when there are many enemies swarming you but this is all part of the fun. Weapons are similarly varied, ranging from a classic shotgun to rocket launchers for fun explosive action.
Movement is one of the few areas that feels like it needs some work. Pools of water and lava dot some of the levels and they must be navigated to access some areas. The fiddly movement of the game can easily get you submerged in one of these pools and this means instant death. If you haven’t used a checkpoint to save your progress falling into one of these death-traps can often mean restarting the sometimes sizable levels and this leads to frustration-quits.
Thankfully Snorms has enough going for it to easily draw you back for more. Rooms full of monsters, while challenging, can turn into a lot of fun thanks to infighting. If you manage to get the monsters to accidentally hit one another with their projectiles you can get them to murder each other while you chuckle on the sidelines. This is one aspect of Simillon’s goal to reclaim the atmosphere and gameplay of Doom and it works well in the isometric environment.
Infighting combined with the mazelike maps and a retro soundtrack help to create a surprisingly familiar atmosphere for Doom fans while still forging a new experience. Speaking of the music, it’s well conceived and if you enjoy a particular track it’s easy to look up thanks to text announcements of the music in play at the start of a map.
Moving away from the Doom similarities, Snorms also brings some enjoyable RPG elements to the table. As you progress through the game you level up and gain the ability to upgrade your weapons in the armoury between maps. This combined with the fact that your ammo and health doesn’t replenish automatically between missions makes for a good sense of character management as you work to stay ahead of the escalating difficulty of the game.
Altogether Snorms has a lot to offer anyone looking for an absorbing shooter with fun exploration and a subtle Doom-esque atmosphere. The features list for the game totes forty-one levels and up to fifteen hours of play. While there can be moments of frustration, the fun generally outweighs the tooth-grinding. Shooter fans and anyone who misses the non-linear exploration of the classics should definitely consider giving Snorms a go.