Picture This: Indie game “Snapshot” Reviewed – Complete With Developer Input!

Snapshot for PC and Mac-- a puzzling picture perfect Indie game, with a lovable robot.
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Snapshot proves to the world that adorable robots are not necessarily just for kids.

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This fact made what was a surprisingly challenging game that much more endearing! I’m still slowly working through a list of games I was lucky enough to see at Pax East, and when I saw Snapshot on steam at a sale price of $3.39– it won the next spot in the lineup.

Snapshot is an adorable, creative and challenging game. This can be both good, and bad (Spoiler: Mostly good). The graphics and artwork cover a range of adjectives from childish, cute, to downright purdy. Simple background animations give static objects like trees enough attention that in each level I was drawn to take a step back and actually look at the quality of the level design, artwork and animation. 

The first time I found a bouncy elephant and plopped him down in front of my character, I lost a few seconds just being distracted by how freaking cute he was. (NOTE: This same elephant stopped a male friend in his tracks and elicited a cry of “that’s adorable” so let’s not roll our eyes and blame the estrogen, this time.)

Meet PIC

Snapshot’s lovable star-collecting hero PIC, short for Personal Intelligent Camera, adventures his way through tons of short, maze-like levels. What makes this puzzle influenced adventure platformer unique is that PIC not only has hidden treasures motivating him to use his camera, but that he has no choice but to do so. His innovative camera allows you to snap a photo of an object in the level (under most circumstances), and save up to three photos in sequence.

Then, at a later and more needful time, deposit those items into the play area to be manipulated or bounced off of. The limitations and opportunities of this part of gameplay/design are not only challenging, but surprisingly fun and intuitive. Think copy paste, where left-click is capturing that funny plant shaped super spring, and right click is putting it on top of a moving elephant for your bouncing pleasure.

Speaking of intuitive game controls, the camera functionality is where that praise ends. I am still, for the life of me, trying to figure out why the space bar was a good alternative to the W key. Being that the game is 2D, A and D have obvious functions, with S acting as a crouch/activate function.

Something that continues to trip me up is that damn spacebar-to-jump decision. Honestly, when I first encountered this I was surprised at myself, judging that development decision so harshly. I told myself that I was choosing to make it a big deal, and that I could adapt to the game’s unique controls.

I wish I could say I was right. As I neared the close of the first chapter, I came to terms with the fact that this particular development choice was the glaring downfall in an otherwise fantastic experience for me. Luckily Snapshot offers an option to remap the game controls, and swapping the default spacebar jump to the intuitive W jump made a world of difference for me.

(Image sourced from Retro Affect’s Facebook Page)

had a revelation halfway through the game’s first chapter when I realized I could jump, place a photo in midair– and bounce off of it before gravity claimed its victim. This, and the giggle/ragequit worthy animation when PIC lands in or jumps into something sharp and pointy, these are the things that stick we me when I’m not playing.

What’s that sound?

If you’ve read my Dead Pixels review over on Indie Combo, you’ll know I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack and effects. Retro Affect, the formerly 3 man team behind Snapshot, definitely made the right decisions when it came to both of these things. The soundtrack, designed for the game by musician Wil Whitlark, is charming and mesmerizing. Combined with the styling of “sorcerer of sound” Jordan Fehr, the game becomes immersive with great choices of sound effects– and not only for the camera interactions.

The Men behind the Machine

Retro Action is headed up by “Master Gentleman of Design,” the twenty-something Kyle Pulver. After reading up quickly on Kyle’s past with games and development, I was intrigued by the Retro Affect homepage’s claim that I could live chat. Low and behold, the Gentleman himself responded to my alert in an otherwise empty IRC chat. Kyle was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. From the “about me” section of the site, I knew that he had worked on the IGF nominated game with software/game engine designer David Carrigg, and the now departed artist/animator “Dr.” Peter Jones.

From our brief chat I learned that he personally felt that the game was a success. Their team was virtually untried, and he also stated that for the time that was put into it, they had broken even overall. For an indie, that’s not a terrible way to break into the market. When asked what he would have done differently, Kyle enlightened me with the following insight into the challenges of game development:

“I feel like I put too much pressure on the project because it felt like a REAL GAME vs. a game project I was just doing for fun, but I should’ve just treated it as a game project I was doing for fun from the start.  It wasn’t until I started to shake off the feelings of “were working on a BIG GAME PROJECT we have to do things differently!” that I started to actually get stuff done on the project.” – Kyle Pulver, Lead Designer for Snapshot

While at this time Retro Affect as a studio has no new projects to announce, Kyle did give me a heads up that Snapshot would be announcing some Sony related news in the near future. After playing for PC on Steam, a Vita/PSN version of the game excites me immensely. As an Xbox 360 owner, I hope that if Microsoft knows what is good for them, they won’t be far behind.

The Endgame

In this reviewer’s opinion, Snapshot has a significant amount of replay potential. Each level can be played through at face value–collecting all the stars, and looking for the mystery item to photograph. Once you get to the end of that level however, if you’ve got even an ounce of challenge or competition in your veins, you’ll want to replay it. The closing screen of each level shows you how many stars you could have gotten, a rough shadowy outline of the mystery item you could have photographed, and most importantly: a posting of each levels crazy speed run challenge. More than once I finished a level proud, only to have Snapshot practically laugh at me with all the achievements or stars I had missed. All that did was leave me itching to play through again.

(Image sourced from MobyGames.com)

Grab the 2010 Independent Games Festival nominee on Steam for a mere $3.39, while the sale lasts. Otherwise, pack a lunch instead of hitting BK or McD’s- and play Snapshot instead at it’s full price of $4.99. Not only does Retro Affect deserve the love, but darn is that robot cute– and who doesn’t love a cute picture taking robot?

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Picture This: Indie game “Snapshot” Reviewed – Complete With Developer Input!
Snapshot for PC and Mac-- a puzzling picture perfect Indie game, with a lovable robot.

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Nicole Nymh
Hey GameSkinny readers, I am a single mom who reads, writes, listens to music and plays games- not necessarily in that order of priority. I am loving writing for Game Skinny, and am also on www.IndieCombo.com writing their Indie Spotlight. Find me on Twitter, and don't be afraid to tell me to check out a new game, or talk to a great developer, I'm always looking for more!