Right in time for the Christmas season we have Snowmen, a game imbued with the wonderful spirit and atmosphere of the holiday season, plenty of snow, and murderous spirits relentlessly trying to turn you into a human popsicle. Well, maybe the last part isn’t quite what everyone is hoping for, but it is what happens in this horror game, a variation of so many others where your main goal is to run, run a bit more, and do a couple of things in-between. In other words, it’s Slenderman on ice, for better and for worse.
Naughty Boys Go Brrr
Assumedly a very short horror experience that is meant to be played in one sitting (and this review will contain spoilers), Snowmen features four different endings and a lot of roaming the snowy region with very few landmarks to help you out. The story begins as you, a decidedly naughty boy who is thrown out of the house by his mother during a ravaging snowstorm – something that sounds like enough punishment, but the worse is yet to come – tries to reach the village but ends up lost and trapped into what seems to be a different plane.
The more you walk, the more you notice that things are gradually changing into a twisted and strange environment. Discovering a note left by a mysterious being leaves you puzzled, but even more baffling is when you are conned into fetching several items from a few lists. You can grab most of these items from the now rampant snowmen, who turn out to be naughty children having fell prey to this creature, now frozen and trapped inside their icy jails.
Collecting everything in your path is likely going to be a widespread strategy. Even if the lists only ask for an assortment of items and are randomized, you’ll run so far and pick up so much stuff that you’d be the buffest naughty kid any Christmas has ever seen.
It could work as a horror tale, one that isn’t terribly original but that could give some chills to younger players. However, there are various things that don’t really click in this game, starting right there in the opening screen - that Settings menu forcing you to hold and drag right mouse button to scroll through the options is something surreal, a cumbersome experience that may have looked good on paper as you move across a snowman’s body, but in practice it’s extremely dull.
While playing, the collision problems are noticeable, mainly the snowmen that at one point start grabbing you and won’t let go until you pick up their arms. Many of them springing from the ground right in your face, this is a jumpscare that isn’t quite scary but frustrating, often making you lose precious time while escaping from the Christmas gift bringer. The game plays a lot with sound to understand your surroundings, from finding item lists to escaping the creature, but it doesn’t go much further than that.
Run, stop to randomly collect something, hope to stumble upon the required items by chance, look behind to see if the disappointing hollow creature remains at a safe distance – and get frozen several times because it’s hard to properly judge the point at which you can “die” – and repeat. Snowmen doesn’t have much more to offer than this.
A Lump of Coal
After aimlessly wandering about in circles and failing to find some items from the list, monotony started to sink in. This shopping list simulator in the snow nails the atmosphere, with some nice wind effects and trees dancing to the arresting snowstorm, but the gameplay is tailor-made for streamers who are eagerly looking for another short horror game to scream along with their young followers.
Snowmen is mildly enjoyable for about half an hour, and the price tag hopefully acknowledges that. But then it turns into a chore, as you run from something that isn’t very impressive to begin with, always trying to pick up stuff along the way. If one of the goals of this game is to make you disdain Christmas, then consider the mission accomplished.
- Quick thrills for fans of Slenderman-like horror games
- Decent snowy atmosphere
- Run, run, and run…
- … Pick up stuff along the way…
- … Look behind you, freeze to death, repeat, get bored