I thought being a snail was easy. They look like they're just sitting around, getting goo on stuff, nothing to fear but French chefs, but in reality... It's no picnic. Snailing is a huge responsibility. So when the Moon Snail disappears and takes other snails away with him, it's up to Snaily Snail and his trusty thirst for adventure to depart Snail Town and go on a great journey to bring peace to the world of snails. Not so easy.
This is the Snailiad, a metroidvania style platform adventure game similar to the wonderful Robot Wants series, except, uh, snailier. The game was created by Auriplane, the same designer whom also wrote the music of the recently reviewed, Starwish.
Turns out controlling a snail is pretty simple. You'll use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move around, and [Z] or [K] to leap. (Snails have knees?) Being a snail, you're not constrained by gravity, and you can climb most vertical surfaces by moving towards them and holding your up key of choice. You can even grab onto the sides of objects in midair that way! Life as a snail isn't all idyllic, however, and if you're damaged (you can check your health via some Zelda-like hearts at the top left of the screen) you should nom-nom-nom some grass tufts to heal up, which can be done just by moving over top of them. The game automatically saves your progress for you at certain points, but keep your eyes open for save points! You can hit [ESC] to reach the options menu that will let you configure the keys to your heart's content. Oh, and you can also hit [M] to view the map.
Your overall snailiness leads to some particularly unique gameplay, in that your sticky gross underside allows you to stick and crawl across all surfaces, freeing you from some of the more horrid constraints of gravity, necessary when there are so many secrets to find. As you explore, you will find new weapons, abilities and shells, not to mention the thirty helix fragments you'll need to unlock the best ending and hardest difficulty, so keep a stalked eye open for secret passages. They are everywhere.
Analysis: Sporting a retro look and sound, this snail story takes inspiration from many sources but still manages to innovate with unique power ups, imaginative and difficult boss fights, and an endearing atmosphere. Addicting and expansive, by the time I really beat the game I put in almost two hours, and there were still modes left to explore. There's really little room to complain: it's clear that thought went into every aspect of the world and the gameplay. It can be difficult on higher settings, but never prohibitively so, and the other snails in Snail Town are usually quick to point you in the right direction if you get lost. The simple art might strike some as a little flat, others might be annoyed searching for secret passages, but for the most part, it's a really solid little game. Except not that little.
About as epic as any game about snails can be, Snailiad will take hours from you, and you'll be glad to see them gone. It's action-packed and adventure-filled, completely unlike the lives of real snails, who mostly sit around hoping they don't become escargot.