Bite-sized Review:
Above Snakes

Developer: Square Glade Games

Release Date: 25 May, 2023 

Platform: Windows, Xbox One, Switch, PS5

Genre: Survival

By Chris Picone, 21 August 2023

Above Snakes is a cozy survival game that's stuck in a sort of "creative mode."  Which is to say that, unlike most survival games, there is no real danger or pressure.  I enjoyed it as a relaxing, casual sort of experience, and it also means it's very kid-friendly. 


I'm not entirely sure how to describe Above Snakes' art style.  It's not low poly, but that's probably the closest thing I can think of?  In any case, it's very pretty, both up close and from a distance.  Bright, colourful, and detailed enough to give you a sense of place and purpose without obscuring any important resources or ever feeling cluttered.  I think part of the game's beauty comes from the range of biomes; plains, forests, lakes, snow, mountains, prairie - all tinged with a vague wild west theme.  The view's always isometric but you can zoom and rotate.


Above Snakes features a number of survival elements; you need to eat and drink to survive, which in turn requires hunting, gathering, and cooking.  And there are zombies and snakes and other dangers.  But you'll probably collect the food accidentally while gathering other resources and the monsters are all very easy to avoid or beat so you never feel like you're actually in any danger.  Aside from cooking up new recipes and crafting various tools and workstations, you can go ahead and build a house - or even a whole town if you want to.  But unlocking all the upgrades to make that happen's pretty slow going and very linear. Unusually, the focus of Above Snakes is on playing your way through the story, which involves taking on quests that essentially act like a tutorial except they just kinda keep going.  I would love to have seen the story take a bit of a back seat, being revealed as you hit milestones rather than being the keeper of those milestones in order to give the player a bit more freedom but it wasn't bad.  The best part of the game, however, is the worldbuilding.  You score new map pieces by interacting with the world, and build the world as you go.  So as you stretch your legs you'll eventually find a lake for fresh water, or a survivor village, or a trade post, but you earn and place these tiles as you go.  It's a nifty concept, I really like it.



I was in a really good mindset when playing Above Snakes (tired, not looking for a stressful or overly "thinky" game), so I found it very relaxing and enjoyable.  But I don't normally like that much hand-holding and I think more hardcore survival or crafting fans will find the progression limiting.  On the flip side, Above Snakes is probably the perfect survival game for kids and casual gamers.