Despite the simple controls and friendly colorful graphics, Snakelike adheres to the roguelike tradition of being somewhat obtuse. It’s not quite a standard roguelike, with its multi-segmented nature and pattern-based spell system. Nor is it a snake clone, featuring turn-based movement and an array of monsters to combat.
So, in an effort to elucidate the mechanics of the game, we seek guidance from the guru of video game wisdom: Cat Stevens.
“Take your time”
Snakelike, like many classic roguelikes, is a turn-based game. Dragging a long tail behind you introduces a new complication: you may end up getting in your own way. Considering each step is critical as you can’t just turn around if you make a mistake.
The roguelike aficionado will no doubt notice the lack of a wait button. In snake you are constantly moving forward, and we wanted to embody this in Snakelike. However, there is a way to get around this limitation. In fact, it’s as easy as hitting your head against a wall.
Using this technique you can try to catch a glimpse of what might be hiding around a corner, or pause momentarily to await the perfect moment to sneak past a roaming Bollgrr.
“Think a lot”
As you explore the cave, you may find yourself moving automatically from alcove to alcove, treating each monster encounter the same as the last. However, by observing how each monster behaves and thinking critically about the possible outcomes of your actions, you may slither away a better snake.
Consider the following example. You come across a lone Globberpoo. Because of its ranged attack, you must close to defeat it.
If you go head-first, you’ll arrive in the fewest number of turns, but you may lose a segment as your head gets pelted, causing damage to your tail.
Now, observe the same setup approached in another way.
By snaking your way toward the foe indirectly, the damage dealt is distributed among a number of segments resulting in zero segments lost.
In Snakelike, no other monster causes panic like the Popper Bob. An unfortunately positioned Popper Bob can ruin a playthrough so it’s only natural to try to avoid any interaction with this peculiar personality. Running away isn’t always the best option; you may end up running straight into a pack of Punglettes, or worse, a dead end. Sometimes it’s best to face your Popper Bobs head on.
By choosing your battle, you lose only a single segment. Even better, because destroying a segment-turned-stone has a chance to drop an apple, you may actually break even! Additionally, it’s possible to use the Popper Bob’s explosive departure to your advantage.
“Think of everything you’ve got”
In Snakelike, it’s easy to focus on what you lack: there’s no wait button, you can’t backtrack easily, you have neither arms nor legs. However, it’s important to consider what you do have: your segments. One of the basic ways to use your long body to your advantage is with a technique we call Pythoning.
By surrounding an enemy, you get an attack bonus based on how many segments are adjacent to your target. If you manage to box in a monster on all four sides, you can dispatch your foe with squeeze.
Surrounding your enemy isn’t the only way to use your body. By applying knowledge of a monster’s behaviors, you can effortlessly defeat any foe. For instance, by using your front section to block off access to your tail, you can render harmless a herd of Quadskitters, who target your tail exclusively.
I hope this has helped to shed some light on the inner workings of Snakelike. Progression is often less about getting to the next level or improving your score, and more about developing new strategies to handle each encounter based on your successes as well as your failures.
In the immortal words of Cat Stevens,
Take your time
Think a lot
Think of everything you’ve got
For you will still be here tomorrow
But your snake may not