The story of Clid the Snail it is in some ways identical to that of GRIME, even if the final result is likely to be very, very different (for further information, here is the GRIME review). Just like the Israelis of Clover Bite, the Spaniards of Weird Beluga are in fact a team of five friends who met at university, and Clid the Snail represents not only their first work, but also a real passion project to try to carve out a career within the video game industry.
Let’s talk about a twin stick shooter with some narrative emphasis, developed with many good intentions and with the support of the Iberian PlayStation Talents program – with the hand of Koch Media in the role of publisher. Scheduled for September on PlayStation 4 and later on PC by the end of the year, Clid the Snail would like to act as a sort of dark tale built around a grumpy anthropomorphic snail tough-tempered, isolated from the rest of society in a world where human beings, revered as true gods of the past, have for some reason become extinct.
A question of redemption
Defined by its creators as a top-down shooter characterized by a strong narrative emphasis, Clid the Snail aims to entertain with immediate gameplay, but also to entertain with a fairy tale about not feeling included in society, on being perpetually isolated from others and being able to find one’s own dimension within the world. A condition that according to the Weird Beluga guys could resonate in a particular way with a certain type of audience, thus ideally giving a further thickness to an experience designed for last between eight and ten hours approximately.
The most interesting idea, at least in terms of concept, is to have built a miniature world to explore, presented from the perspective of a creature of a few centimeters: a whole new dimension of our planet, in which exactly as in Pikmin (by the way, if you want to know more here you can find the Pikmin 3 Deluxe review) you will cross artifacts belonging to a
forgotten time and world. A lighter or a guitar can thus be transformed into gigantic and even almost mystical objects, completely losing their usual ordinariness by virtue of the bizarre sense of scale. All without considering the civilization created from scratch by insects, molluscs, small mammals and other creatures, technologically evolving to a sort of dark future with gothic traits and struggling with a mysterious disease capable of corrupting everything. To see Clid The Snail would not even be too bad, even if the character design struggles to stand out with personality alternating frequent ups and downs as well as the success of Biomutant (to find out more, the review of Biomutant is a click away). The overall aspect of the image is less convincing, which between lighting with particularly “fired” lights and a monotonous color palette ends up having a mixed appearance, not so legible and generally questionable in terms of impact. A look from Unreal Engine 4 first way that frankly knows of outdated, betraying it quite unequivocally amateur nature of production.
A not very incisive gunplay
The real problems of Clid the Snail, however, are to be found in the gameplay, authentic Achilles heel of the work Weird Beluga’s debut. The sources of inspiration explicitly cited by the team would be admirable in themselves: Dead Nation, Alienation and Nex Machina, or the excellence of the Housemarque brand. Unfortunately, something must have been lost along the way, it being understood that it is obviously difficult – if not impossible – to improvise and arrive at that kind of skill and finesse at the very first experience. Mind you, the idea did not want to be exactly the approach of the Finnish studio of Returnal, which has recently joined the ranks of the PlayStation Studios, and indeed Clid would like to be one less blatantly arcade shooter and more thoughtful in action times.
The demo I got to test on PC showed up though heavy gaps in terms of action, feeling and overall solidity: it blatantly lacks the rhythm of the best twin stick shooters, the sincere satisfaction in shooting, the visceral impact of the shots and the sense of general threat offered by the enemies, really
very few in number and also too little aggressive to be able to even remotely worry. The final effect, instead of the arcade fury of Nex Machina or a more measured and attentive setting, in which perhaps the positioning could make the difference, is therefore reduced to a mild and anonymous picnic for levels with reduced mobility, because the spaces in which to move are physically contained. Even the elementary puzzles scattered here and there or the shy hint of an exploratory component are not enough to improve the whole: just like the weapons that the protagonist selects, Clid the Snail seems to pass without leaving its mark rather than biting into the over-the-top character that he would proudly like to have.