Oh my gosh this game. This game.
If you dilute it down to its most basic elements, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is basically sokoban – a very common sort of puzzle game that has you pushing blocks around various environments. I remember having a similar kind of game on my very first cell phone, which at the time was impressive because it had a color display and a built-in camera. So yes, sokoban is a classic puzzle genre that I’ve always enjoyed quite a bit.
A Good Snowman is Hard to Build goes a step further, however, by throwing an interesting wrench into things: you have to build a snowman. What this means is you can’t simply push blocks (in this specific case they’re actually snowballs) to a predetermined space and call it done. Instead you have to adhere to snowman zoning laws and stack all three sections in size order, from large to medium to small. On top of this, you also have to consider the areas with snow on the ground very carefully, because rolling anything small or medium sized over snowy terrain will cause the ball to increase in size — and you can’t very well have a snowman with uniformly-sized body segments, now can you?
So A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is a pretty clever take on a classic puzzle game. Oh, but there’s more. The basic gameplay would be enough to satisfy on its own, but the presentation pushes it far beyond “Well that’s neat” and into “You play this and you play it NOW” territory.
You’re controlling an absolutely adorable little featureless monster who’s wandering through a large hedge maze/garden. Each section of the garden requires building a snowman in order to open a path to the next area, naturally. What’s great is just how much personality there is to the concept. Every single snowman you build has its own name and will sprout features like a face, hat, and accessories as soon as you finish them.
The level of adorableness shoots up even further when you start to find some of the – not really hidden, but not immediately apparent – interactions. Stuff like being able to sit on a bench and just drink in the calmness, waving at the camera, or best of all, being able to hug the snowmen you’ve made. It’s seriously so freaking cute that I can barely stand it. I love this little detail so, so much.
The one incredibly minor issue I have with all of this is that the garden is pretty big and spread out, to the point where it can be a little troublesome to navigate to new areas if you end up doubling back. There aren’t many straight paths, you see, and there are a lot of forks in the proverbial road. You can get a better look at the area by looking through a telescope, but you have to actually walk to where the telescope is in order to use it. It’s a nice feature to have, but I feel like giving the monster a handheld telescope to use on command would have been much more useful.
I’m not entirely convinced I can recommend A Good Snowman is Hard to Build enough. It’s a great new spin on a classic type of puzzle, it looks great, sounds great, and is probably the cutest game I’ve played in all of 2015, if not years. If you like sokoban, puzzle games, or cute things in general. A Good Snowman is Hard to Build will definitely be worth your time.