PAX East 11: Hands-On Impressions: Snapshot

Amidst the flashy presentations and giant displays littering the show floor at PAX East, it was the little games like Snapshot that caught the most attention. As I walked over to the Boston Indie Showcase, the interesting looking platformer simply called to me and I appropriately stood in line for my turn to play.

The game is the sophomore contribution from indie studio Retro Affect.  Everything about the game seems pretty unique. From the interesting design of the main character to the game play itself.

You control a tiny robot named PIC.  The developers were reluctant to reveal any story components to me, saying only that he had been sent on a mission. The 2D visuals in the game are cartoony and bright and I was told that the music was quite good, though hearing the game was out of the question amongst the nearly seventy-thousand attendees.

Like most platformers, the goal in Snapshot is to make it from point A to point B alive. However, what makes Snapshot different is that you’ll need to “capture” objects in your environment to help you move on, giving the game an equally relevant puzzle component. By controlling an on-screen reticle, you must take pictures of things and they’ll be stored in your camera. You can then use the camera to paste the image anywhere on the screen and any usable object you captured will be included.

For example, in many sections, I needed to cross over a long bed of spikes without touching them. Earlier in the level I took a photo of a long, flat plant-like object. I flipped through the camera and pasted the makeshift platform over the spikes, and it fell on top of them, creating a path. The things that you can use to your advantage seem pretty obvious because they stand out in bright contrast to the rest of the environment. In another section, I needed to get to the top of a pretty tall wall. I searched around a little bit and found a large crate. So I snapped the photo and captured the crate, took it back to the wall and pasted it. I was then able to scale the wall.

This mechanic seemed pretty innovative and the developers didn’t mind agreeing with me. As promising as the concept is, I really wondered how they would capitalize on it further into the game. PIC also collected stars as he journeyed. They wouldn’t tell me what purpose they served, saying that it bled into the story and that PIC’s mission basically was to capture these stars. I didn’t notice  a score of any kind was increasing, so I was very interested in this.

I was playing a pretty early technical demo of the game. You could only store up to three photographs at once, but I was told that throughout the progression of the game you would collect more film and thereby be able to store more photos. The game will feature 720p HD, and while they were shy about the question, it was implied that some form of multiplayer would be present in the final product.

Potential is a mystical, beautiful thing and Snapshot has all but a ton of that. The photo mechanic doesn’t seem like a gimmick but the exact opposite; a legit and unique game play element. We won’t know for sure until Snapshot hits the PC and at least one console (Xbox 360 was hinted at) this summer.

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Kenneth Richardson

Kenneth is a Graphics and Game Design student who's worked as an author for since June of 2010. His favorite gaming genres are Fighting, Role Playing and Sadistic Action games like Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta. In addition to gaming, he is also strongly interested in music, fashion, art, culture, literature, education, religion, cuisine, photography, architecture, philosophy, film, dance, and most forms of creative expression.

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