Not since Sulley from Monsters Inc. have I met a monster I wanted to hug so badly as I do this game’s dark little gumdrop of a protagonist.
Especially since I’m pretty sure he would hug me back.
Deceptively simple in nature, this sweet little game (it’s only 72 MB!) took a year in the making between Alan Hazelden (Sokobond) and Benjamin Davis (Space Valet) with soundscapes by Ryan Roth (Electronic Super Joy). It centers around the actions of a lonely, featureless little monster in an enormous empty garden of snow, bushes, and evil park benches.
(Not that the park benches don’t come in handy.)
In spite of what the title says, building a snowman, at least in the context of this game, seems like it should be pretty simple.
In each small enclosure within the giant hedge maze of the monster’s garden, you are faced with three snowballs. Rolling these across a patch of snow will increase its size by one until it reaches the biggest size. Stack one small snowball on top of a medium snowball on top of a large snowball to make a snowman.
Once you go up a snowball size, no magic, Godzilla breath, or anything besides retracing your steps will make it small again. (You can go back a step by pressing Z or resetting the puzzle by pressing R.)
But of course, it wouldn’t do to be just that easy. Not only do you need to be concern yourself with the snow on the ground, but also about maneuver the monster around an area littered with park benches, potted plants, and trees.
Upon completing a snowman, the music brightens and the snowman immediately sprouts tiny features and accessories. The monster may not speak much, but the moment he arrives in a new patch of snow, he already has a name decided and ready for his new friend. It’s not very often you can discern a sense of personality and charm in such few actions and even fewer words, but A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build makes it look easy.
While controls can be a little sluggish (so that oftentimes you walk forward a step you didn’t intend to and miss an opening in a hedge), how to play this game is exceptionally easy to pick up.
The opening tutorial is short, sweet, and to the point – although I personally wished for a keybinding page from the main menu as I got later into the game, saved, quit, then came back to a puzzle I needed to reset and completely forgot the existence of the reset command and tried repeatedly to backstep through a half-finished puzzle that I couldn’t backstep through.
Such things are incredibly minor however, and as there are always at least two new puzzles that open after completing a puzzle, you rarely run into such frustration that will cause you to ragequit out.
And yet if you think that all you have to do is run through a garden maze of puzzles, you would be quite mistaken.
Early reviews and Let’s Plays gave the impression that a short series of puzzles in a garden were all that this game was – all well and good for a flash game or a $3 mobile game, but hardly worth it for the full $12 retail price.
Without delving into the secrets this game slyly tosses your way, players that play through will find a whole wealth of secret gameplay that doubles the playtime of the entire game and will command an even greater interest in the puzzles your little monster has to solve. With all of this in mind, I would go so far as to say yes, a $12 price tag is well worth this bundle of charm.
Not that you have to pay full retail price just yet!
For the first two weeks (that is, February 25 to March 10), just before having his tea, the monster goes out to the weather station in London to check today’s temperature. He sets the price accordingly and tweets to his friends from @AGoodSnowman.
Today the weather is 9°C so the price is $9. Yesterday it was 12°C and so the price was $12. (Although it is to be noted that any higher than that would be higher than the monster is comfortable with.)
You can purchase A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build through the website in order to buy the DRM game at this price (which includes a Steam key!). Purchasing it directly through Steam will cost you the full $12.
A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build Review: Pay What the Temperature Is!
A good snowman may be hard to build, but it's certainly easier to do in colder weather! This charming indie gem is priced every day by the weather in London.What Our Ratings Mean