Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
When a game makes me feel invested in a little black blob making snowmen, I know that it’s something special. A Good Snowman is Hard to Build did that and then some.
Puzzle games usually don’t hold my attention for a long time. Every once in awhile a mobile game like Threes! captivates me for the couple minutes I spend in the bathroom everyday, but I never really invest myself in the puzzle game genre.
By the time I beat A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, I realized that I had not touched any other games during my play-through. Any game that prevents me from booting up The Binding of Isaac for the millionth time, is a game that is worthy of a recommendation in my book. I kept returning to it, not because it helped me kill time when I was bored, but because I was genuinely enjoying my experience trying to create a snowman in the fewest moves possible.
At its core, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is a concise and simple puzzle game with an incredibly charming atmosphere. I think that’s what kept it fresh for a puzzle newbie like me. As someone who hates getting stuck too long on a puzzle, and gets frustrated after staring at the same environment for awhile, A Good Snowman feels like a long warm fuzzy hug the whole way through. The game showed me what its mechanics were, and didn’t overstay its welcome.
"Nothing can stop you from making the perfect snowman."
In the couple hours it took me to build all the snowmen, I’ve actually come back to walk around the park in which they reside. I can’t help myself from smiling, seeing each snowman’s name pop up as I enter each of their little sections in the park. I can even walk up to hug them; yes, you can literally walk up to all the snowmen you’ve built in this game, and hug them. There are benches scattered around the map which I can sit on, and enjoy my frozen pals. The sounds of chirping birds serenade me, and I get lost to the game’s ambient soundtrack. It’s grossly adorable, and I love it.
There is no real story behind A Good Snowman is Hard to Build. You are a faceless blob that enters a gated garden full of unfinished snowmen. Each small block of the garden has three snowballs in them (later on you may have to build up to three snowmen at a time, but that’s near the end game), and it’s your job to roll them up to a specific size and stack them up. These snow balls create the base, torso, and head that are needed for the snowman to come to life. Pushing these snowballs in the snow around it enlarges it to the next size (i.e. head to torso to base). By pushing it twice you max out the size it can become. Once at its maximum capacity, this base snowball can be used to clear up pathways so that the other remaining snowballs don’t grow any larger.
This is where the challenge of A Good Snowman lies. Each section of the garden is congested with bird houses, trees, bushes, fountains, potted plants and more. These decorations prevents players from being able to easily maneuver around the snowballs to create the snowmen. There were so many instances in which I just wished there was one more space I could walk on so I could push a snowball one more time. Thankfully, there is a reversal button you can press to go back in time to undo a mistake you could have made. Nothing can stop you from making the perfect snowman.
As all good puzzle games go, when I finally get the solution to a puzzle it feels incredible. There was never a moment of real frustration while playing A Good Snowman. When I was inevitably stuck on a couple of the puzzles I didn’t get angry, instead I was full of curiosity. Messing around with the mechanics, I eventually found the answer by exploring the level around me. Even if i did have to take breaks to think about how I could finish some of the snowmen, the game never pushed me to the point where I felt that I needed to go find a YouTube walkthrough. That alone makes this game special.
A Good Snowman just feels like a silly friend you enjoy spending time with. Every time you complete a snowman, they get a name and are accessorized. It gives every creation a unique feel by just giving it two or three articles of clothing. David, for example, has a mustache and hard hat. Rebecca is a party girl, with a birthday hat and a party horn in her mouth. The list goes on and on. The ridiculously simple art style highlights these snowmen, by making them pop out of the generally tame environment.
The completion of each snowmen is not just a pathway for progression, but is also a labor of love. The way the music changes when you hug a snowman, or how the camera zooms in whenever you finish a new snowman emphasizes the bond players create while building them. You can even approach a telescope to see a bird's eye view of all the snowmen you've created at the same time. There’s just something special about giving attention to something you devoted your heart and time into. Throughout the whole game the blob is all alone, but its snowmen seems to be the only companionship it needs. Even if they don’t move or talk, these snowmen are the real stars of A Good Snowman.
A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is one of those few games that made me feel relaxed, but also challenged me. The game just feels friendly, as the snowmen smile pleasantly back at you. In every way shape and form, the game is a delight to play and will makes even the most cynical of people crack a grin. A sense of comfort envelopes A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, just the same way you’ll wrap your arms around the snowmen you’ll build in the game.
- The game is never frustrates players, even with its most difficult puzzles.
- Overflowing with joy and cuteness.
- The music is incredibly well done, syncing up with the gameplay.
- The perfect length/amount of puzzles to complete.
- Simple, but effective aesthetics.
- Movement can feel laggy at times, but this is a minor complaint.
You can buy A Good Snowman is Hard to Build on Steam for $11.99.