A snakebird is an abomination of nature. It goes against evolution. This entirely unreasonable being wrestles into the ground any logical thought that may erase its existence. It is two opposing creatures animated as one: the lithe body of a snake able to pose stiffly at any angle as it climbs to elevated perches, then the feathers and beak of a bird grossly stuck on where the scales and fangs should be. The thought of its wretched movements like one disgusting muscle hidden beneath the colorful appeal of an animal known for its tuneful song and flight of freedom. Bah! It’s vile in its deception. An insult to anything living.
Yet, this is the imagery that the creators of Snakebird call upon—not the noble chimera, but something of it and somehow more terrible. But it is not out of place. The snakebird is a character that embodies the very nature of the game it stars in. The puzzle design is as the snake’s suffocating hold induced upon the brain. While the whistling bird and its majestic plume lends itself to the cartoon presentation, it all inviting you in irresistibly; a tutti-frutti paradise of seas and stars.
There aren’t just blues and greens and reds in Snakebird, the tones are as thick as wetly applied paint, bold enough to eat or dive into, appearing as if the very definition of its color. In fewer words, it is appetizing, and appropriately so given that it’s a game about eating. Each snakebird in every level must be fed fruit and then passed through the rainbow portal that opens up. But Snakebird is also a game about making mistakes. The creature at its center is, if nothing else, nature’s mistake, but you accept it as you have no other choice. And so goes your experience when trying to solve each of the game’s tricky puzzles. Hence you have unlimited power to undo your faltered actions and with no penalty to suffer.
The problem arises in the lengths and shape of each snakebird. The creatures must always have at least a single segment of their body on a square of land else they fall and, usually, die. Ensuring this basic rule of physics is met can be made easier by extending the length of their bodies by eating a piece of fruit. We’re familiar with the idea that consumption leads to instant growth due to, most of all, the 1998 Nokia phone game Snake. But here, as in that classic game, greater length also leads to easier entanglement.
The birds squash their beaks against their own bodies, soil and spike, as you try to manipulate them. They’ll also hungrily snap their pointed bills if the fruit is in sight, or tremble with fear in their eyes if suspended above sharp and deadly steel. Unlike most other videogame characters, the snakebirds also sleep if you’re not directly controlling them, as some puzzles require that you maneuver up to three of them in sequence. These creatures, as odd as they might be, are alive, and therefore unable to be forced beyond their own limits.
Snakebird, then, is about figuring out a most peculiar ecology. You must preserve a beast by having it slither and squawk around an environment it is barely suited to. You’re actively working to defy the Darwinian law. And for what? To prove a form of creationism, it would seem, and not necessarily of God. Perhaps this snakebird is of human responsibility, born of our brain, like the industries and pollution we destroy the Earth with for our own sake. And so you solve these puzzles, confronting nature’s will, all to stubbornly prove your own and all of our cognitive ability, no matter the cost. The snakebird shouldn’t exist, though survive, yet it’s this you work to ensure.
You can purchase Snakebird on Steam.