The idea of an anthropomorphic animal as a protagonist and sending them into battle is a unique genre of games that surprisingly works—and it works incredibly well when it’s done right. Take the classics; Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Donkey Kong just to name a few. Now, we have a bizarre new face entering the fray.
Meet Clid, a grouchy and cynically inclined snail with a habit for hard liquor and weapon tinkering. Unfortunately for Clid, this combination of hobbies gets him kicked out of his snail citadel with his companion firefly Belu and sent into a post-apocalyptic world where a slug plague is ravaging the lands.
Clid the Snail is a twin-stick shooter that starts off nothing but promising. The in-game starting cinematic highlights fast-paced looter-shooter action, but what was provided was nothing of the sort. Instead of a drunken-fuelled rampage, combat truly does move at a snail’s pace. The slow shooting, recharging and rolling mechanics are okay at their base level, but after playing for a while it does get old very quickly.
Conceptually, the world that Clid finds himself in is an intriguing one. This plagued new world has been rebuilt from the ground up by the slug and monster population out of post-human wreckage and scraps. You’ll occasionally run into small outposts that use discarded old-world materials as furniture and accessories, and from time-to-time dialogue from merchants and other travellers will reveal small details about the old-world in passing remarks. If you look closely, you might even spot the odd human skull scattered around.
Clid the Snail also features a few different environments and biomes to traverse on your journey. Again, there was a lot of potential here with the inclusion of snow-paved mountains and desert landscapes, however, Clid the Snail falls just short of the mark. The linear nature of the twin-stick shooter hinders the ability for natural exploration, so a lot of the environments that Clid finds himself in don’t feel as rewarding as they could have been.
The level designs themself because of this tend to feel very repetitive. Some stages will feature a branching option for Clid to explore that will provide new weapons and upgrades, but they will always culminate with Clid exterminating a wave of slug enemies. There are no checkpoints here, so if you die, you will be sent back to the beginning of the level to do it all again. What is even more irritating is the fact that you can buy these same weapons and upgrades from merchants you meet on your journey, so the mini-boss-like scenario is completely unnecessary and drags a lot of the enjoyment away very quickly.
Speaking of the weapons, Clid’s arsenal can grow to include flamethrowers, grenades and landmines to name a few. Despite the wide variety at your disposal, these weapons simply don’t feel necessary or very powerful compared to your main rifle. The slugs and enemies don’t offer up much of a challenge where these secondary weapons are necessary. The gameplay does get stale very quickly as a result of this; you have unlimited ammo and waves of brainless enemies coming at you in a straight line, it doesn’t take much strategy or skill to take them down.
Visually, the lighting lets down a lot of the experience. Whilst I enjoyed the general art style and direction, the muddy lighting and haze effect really overshadowed a lot of the locations, so much so that occasionally it would be difficult to tell the difference between a snowy mountain biome and a desert. The haze isn’t exactly aided by the fact that the lighting can blur the screen a lot, which results in the screen looking like Clid himself has slid over it a few times.
In terms of dialogue and voice acting, Clid and Belu speak in complete gibberish. Whilst it is quirky at first, combined with how quickly the dialogue boxes scroll past you, it can get quite disorientating, especially if you’re trying to figure out controls or listen to plot details. The writing itself is solid with its own quirks, but the gibberish doesn’t do the story enough justice. Music-wise, it fits rather well into the world and adds a sense of danger to the post-apocalyptic environment.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me overall was the fact that playing as a snail simply has no impact on the game whatsoever. You could replace Clid with any other anthropomorphic creature and you would essentially have the same result. Having the ability to hide in Clid’s shell as a defensive strategy for example would have been an interesting inclusion to his arsenal.
Clid the Snail simply doesn’t hit every mark. The idea and conception are great and the characters of Clid and Belu are fun to learn about, and the idea of a plague-infested slug world is an interesting one, but the gameplay itself is where Clid the Snail has issues. Gameplay-wise, if you’re a hardcore fan of twin-stick shooters, Clid the Snail is nothing ground-breaking, but if you’re looking to kill a few hours (as well as some slugs) then Clid the Snail might be worth it.