With a birthday party coming up, it seemed like the perfect time to request and review a party game like Headsnatchers. My group of friends love Gang Beasts, and this looked like it had similar potential for chaotic fun. Sadly, we played a few rounds and found it didn’t click, and I was left to play alone. So, I have done all I can solo. I have played the “Zombie Castle” mode on all available difficulties, I have gone online, I have snatched many a head, and it’s just not that great. Let’s go over why.
But first, I want to start with my favourite thing for once. I sincerely love that you can create your own head. Up to 20 heads can be customised and saved for use in any mode of the game, including the online. The range of options for eyes, noses, ears, hair, colours, accessories, mouths, and even eyebrows, is extensive. You could spend hours making head-sets alone (that’s custom sets for heads, of course). I don’t have that much free time, so I made a few and called it there. But I made one with quite the likeness for myself. That made me happy.
Now, we move onto the rest. What is Headsnatchers all about? Snatching heads, duh. Good review, thanks for reading.
OK, I kid. It’s a party game where you’re tasked with knocking over your friends to remove their heads and then get rid of them in ridiculous ways. This can involve anything from slam dunking their cranium through a hoop, to flushing their noggin down a giant toilet. There’s a good variety of stages from the start, with a few more to unlock through, ways… I only unlocked the one, and that was through the single player. But the stages we had available to start were big, blocky, and bright.
The art-style in general is solid and bold, which is serviceable, but very simple. A lot of the same assets are re-used across the solo campaign with nothing except different colours to distinguish them.
More on the single-player later. First, I’ll sum up why the multiplayer fell flat for my friend group with two words: un-intuitive controls. It’s vital that a party game is immediately accessible to players of all skill ranges; to make the game a fun and fair playing field for all.
Headsnatchers has two different buttons for attacking, a shared one for both grabbing and dropping, another for jumping, and uses both the left and right shoulder buttons as well. And some of these buttons do different things if you hold them longer. It took me a good half hour with the campaign to figure everything out. This is not conducive to a party environment where you want everyone to get to grips with it straight away. It doesn’t matter if the premise is wacky and amusing; if you’re wrestling with controls, you’re not having fun.
Fortunately, the campaign, called “Zombie Castle,” is a substantial solo affair. Seventy-five levels spread across easy, medium, and hard difficulties. I completed both the easy and medium campaigns, but gave up on the hard difficulty due to the sudden inclusion of limited lives. There’s no way I’m clearing five levels with only three lives.
A level in the castle tends to include a mix of platforming challenges, requiring well-timed jumps and dashes, and combat with zombies, requiring guns and melee weapons. The inclusion of shotguns was a shock to me; definitely not an unwelcome one though. The isometric camera view in this game lends itself surprisingly well to shooting down zombies and yanking their heads off.
“Zombie Castle” provides a welcome challenge, with frequent checkpoints to prevent too much frustration as well, thankfully. On occasion I’d struggle to gauge distances for jumps, and the fact that you can only move in 8 directions is weird, but I mostly enjoyed the gauntlet thrown at me. Except for the medium ice levels, they can die. Moving platforms, with momentum physics, and slippery surfaces, are a recipe for suffering. Oh, and the fact that timed platforms wobble to warn that they’re about to drop is a great visual indicator. However, it sucks when the wobble impacts the physics and swallows your jump, or catapults you further than you planned.
Finally, the last mode I could test was the online mode. This was after I’d grasped the controls in the campaign of course. To my pleasant surprise, it ran incredibly smoothly. I don’t think it lagged once in the one time I found a match successfully. Most attempts at match-making resulted in me sitting in a lobby by myself. On occasion it would put me in an ongoing match, which is excellent in concept. Sadly, it spawns new players in without a head, rendering it impossible to lose. You just get stuck in Headsnatchers purgatory with no way to win or lose cause the game doesn’t know how to handle a headless player.
So, based off of the limited amount of Headsnatchers I could actually play, I’d say that it could be fun with the right people to play it with. If your friends have the patience to pick up the controls, it could be a great time, ignoring the restrictive 8-way movement and mediocre visuals. The concept is quirky and unique, and I adore the inclusion of the head editor, or “headitor”, if I could rename it. Regardless, a premise alone does not a great game make, so it doesn’t get the seal of approval from me today.
Headsnatchers was developed by: IguanaBee
$15: Only $3.75 per player!
A Switch review copy was provided by the developer.
SteviePatamon has awarded Headsnatchers a voucher for a re-review if it can provide at least three friends.