It’s funny how you can always tell when a publisher wants their newest game to be a “thing”. There’s tons of support material sent your way, intricate Discord demos/presentations, and even a special preview build of the game itself for journalists to play. The PR team at Deep Silver/Koch Media has (almost to) readily provided all of the above in regard to their new game, Clid the Snail.
They have reason to believe Clid will be a winner because it’s developer, Weird Beluga Studios, won a couple of prestigious PlayStation Talents Awards (for best art and best game) in 2019. And after spending some quality time with Clid, I can say that those lofty expectations are deserved… to a point.
This experience is set in a world where only the distant memory of human existence still lingers, you play as Clid (short for Euclid…yes, the ancient Greek mathematician), a troublemaking, drunk snail who has just been exiled from his home. Joined by a faithful and talkative firefly, Belu, (who functions much like Navi in the Ocarina of Time) you exit the Snail citadel in search of, well, a purpose in your shell-bound life.
The game itself is a unique top-down shooter where character-driven narrative and careful combat take center stage. Through Clid, you’ll experience a story about exile, friendship, and betrayal. You’ll experience the adventures this surly snail who just doesn’t fit in no matter where he goes. There’s a treacherous world to explore that’s full of threats and challenges, where strategic positioning, precise gunplay, and an understanding of enemy behavior are paramount to your survival. And ultimately, you’ll help Clid uncover the truth behind the slug plague corrupting this world and save the land from utter ruin.
Diving into the demo, the title screen greets you with a jangly, acoustic guitar theme that feels entirely apropos for the setting. Once the action starts though, the initial areas are dark, too dark on the default settings, and I immediately needed to adjust it. I get that Weird Beluga are going for “gritty dystopia” here, but my first thought when the game boots up shouldn’t be to quote Nigel Tufnel from This Is Spinal Tap: “How much more black could it be? The answer is none… none more black.”
Once that issue was resolved, I got into the nitty-gritty of the game – namely shooting stuff, solving the odd puzzle, and collecting clues and loot. While doing this though, Clid’s movements feel a bit sluggish (no pun intended, of course) to me as he moves about the world. I mean, he’s an armored snail after all, so I suppose he shouldn’t move all that fluidly, but in a game that’s ostensibly a twin-stick shooter you need to be able to glide around the levels while annihilating enemies from all angles. Also, Clid’s voice acting feels a bit off – even though he’s speaking a made-up, gibberish “snail” language. It just doesn’t match the cantankerous, sloshed loner description that Weird Beluga is selling here. I was expecting his voice to be more gruff/gravely like the Snake Plissken or “Dirty” Harry Callahan archetypes.
Clid starts off packing a fairly serious arsenal of a shotgun (Taurus), a pulse rifle (SMG 42-OK), a gas gun (Puke HCL), a standard, chargeable laser rifle (Blaster), and grenades. There is also a super-weapon/smart bomb (which reminds me of the Death Blossom from The Last Starfighter) that can be unleashed if/when Clid finds himself in a tight spot. All these weapons feel good, packing an effective amount of pop, especially the shotgun (duh), but this gun does take a painstakingly long time to reload. Although, from what the PR team told us, you’ll start the “real” game with only the Blaster – the more powerful guns are only in this demo version to make it a bit easier at the outset.
In terms of overall performance, Clid the Snail ran rather well on my mid-range PC. I was worried a bit about this because during the Discord demo of Clid we saw a couple weeks ago, it looked a bit choppy. I’m not sure that was just a streaming video/internet connection issue or if the demo they showed was running on PS4 hardware rather than a PC. The only issue I did have is the that game crashed a few times, and when it did I had to reboot because each time it crashed the rumble function on my controller went haywire (i.e., it wouldn’t stop until I rebooted and/or unplugged the controller).
This first level “sample” ends with a cool boss fight against a psychopathic rat with ballistic missiles and flamethrower named Ska… but his theme music is grinding, thrash metal guitars? An odd choice but, admittedly, it does kinda work. After you defeat Ska there’s an extended cutscene which gives hints as to how the larger narrative is going to unfold as the game progresses.
All in all, Clid the Snail is a solid, if unspectacular title. What it does it does well, but a big portion of it feels rather “samey” to me. I don’t think it’s quite the home run Deep Silver/Koch Media is touting it to be, but it should do well if it finds the right audience. Hopefully in the later levels, you can upgrade Clid so that he will move faster and/or more gracefully which is really my only major complaint with what I experienced in this demo.
Clid the Snail will release in summer 2021 as a timed exclusive for PlayStation 4. It will be out on PC in fourth quarter of 2021. It seems the Xbox isn’t getting any Clid-love… yet.
Jerry Bonner | Gamepressure.com