Release Date: 5/17/2021
Platform: PC, Android, iOS
Back in high school, my parents decided to get me a Motorola cell phone of my very own. I think their intention was that having a way to be in contact with them would allow me to participate in healthy, productive after-school activities. Instead, that wonderful device became a non-stop Snake machine. The 1-bit graphics might have been a step down from my GameBoy Advance, but the gameplay was ridiculously addicting.
From Snake, to Snakeybus, to SNKRX…a normal progression in “Sn” words
A few months ago, Snakeybus showed up to scratch that same itch. It turns out there’s something endlessly satisfying about a game that asks nothing more than for you to steer an object in perpetual motion. My newest obsession is SNKRX, a game that looks like Snake but brings in deck-building and auto-battler mechanics and an off-the-charts visual and audio style with a rogue-like meta.
If you’re not already convinced, let me sell you on this game by giving you a step-by-step guide on how to be awesome at it.
Step 1: Read Everything
A game of SNKRX doesn’t start with the gameplay. No, before you start playing the actual game you’ve got to make a simple, but important choice.
You’ve got to buy a hero.
You see, each segment of the snake you pilot in this game is actually a hero that you recruit. At the start of the game and after each level you visit a shop where you can recruit one of three randomly selected heroes. So, the very first thing you need to do in this game is tap on each of the three heroes shown to you and read about what they do.
Every hero you come across has some different effect they’ll automatically use in the actual game. An Arcanist summons a free-floating orb that will shoot at enemies, while a Magician generates an area of effect field that damages enemies inside of it.
Along with their attack, each hero type is part of one or more classes. Recruiting multiple members of the same class gives boosts to that whole class, so it's a good idea to focus on matched sets.
For now, though, the key to winning is just to understand that you need to read every option that this game gives you. We will talk more about how to exploit those options later on. Until then, just be sure you’ve got your reading glasses ready when you start up this game.
Editor's Note: While I (Elinzia) haven't played SNKRX myself, this is reminding me of another great game from forever ago called Nimble Quest.
Step 2: Play Snake
Now it’s time to actually get into the gameplay part of SNKRX. Just like the classic, all you are responsible for is turning the head of your ever-moving snake left or right, but that’s about where the similarities end.
Instead of gobbling up pellets to grow your snake until you die, each level of this game has you facing off against waves of enemies who show up to try to kill your heroes. As they target you, your heroes will auto-deploy their attacks to fight back.
All of the combat basically just happens on its own, so my advice is to ignore it as much as you can. There are no time limits on the levels in SNKRX, so instead of trying to make sure you're in the right position to hit the most enemies with each auto-attack you should just run away. After all, the best offense is a good defense, right?
Back in the day, I realized that an incredibly effective Snake strategy was to hug the walls and use tight turns as much as possible. Even though SNKRX doesn’t feature the growing mechanics of the classic, those strategies still work well. Sticking to the outside edges of each arena is a great way to avoid the ridiculous number of enemies this game throws at you for as long as possible. Sure, the obstacles in this game are moving enemies instead of your own tail, but the key to success is still just playing a good solid game of Snake.
Step 3: Upgrade, Optimize, and Exploit
After beating a few levels and buying a few heroes, SNKRX throws one more wrinkle at the player. You’ll start a level where your objective is to defeat an elite enemy rather than a wave-based trial. The elites move and attack a bit differently than your basic foes and summon tons of mobs to try to distract you. Thankfully, the same basic Snake strategies will usually serve you pretty well.
Once you wipe the elite off the board, you are rewarded with a choice between a few different boons. These can be wildly different and specific, including boosts to a specific class, faster attack rates for a specific slot on your snake, a defensive boost whenever you spin around in a circle, and a whole lot more.
The first time you get a boon is when the longer strategy of SNKRX really opens up. In a perfect run, you’d end up with an advantage here that already works with your playstyle. If you’ve got three characters in your snake who throw daggers, getting a boon that causes projectiles to create chain lightning is amazing! More often than not, though, your boon should guide you on how you fill out the rest of your party.
Buying, Selling, and other Strategies
It’s at this point in the run that you should really start taking advantage of some of the other things you can do on the store page. If you got a boon that applies to a specific character slot, it’s time to start dragging your heroes around to reorder them. If you’ve already got a full snake of seven characters in place and one of them no longer fits your strategy you can drag them off the top of the list to sell them.
Finally, if the three available heroes in the shop do you no good, you can reroll them for some gold to get new options.
It’s important to note that you can and should rebuy the same hero over and over again. Rather than duplicating itself in your list, though, this is a way to level up your heroes. Buying three of a character will then bring them up to level 2. Buying six more will bring them up to level 3. Getting each character leveled up as much as you can is just as important as having a team that works well together and with your boons.
Step 4: Vibe Out
Okay, this one might seem like a bit of a stretch. The thing is, I’ve already told you everything you need to know mechanically about playing SNKRX. You buy characters, you use the strategies you learned in Snake to stay alive until those characters kill everything, then you look for upgrades to make a totally awesome build. You follow your heart for those first few purchases, you demonstrate your reflexes as you play the game, then you put your mind to work finding out how to exploit its systems.
That’s really all there is to it.
…Except, of course, for your soul.
SNKRX is an absolutely gorgeous game. It looks fine when it’s still, but the way it moves really helps you to get into the flow of things. Every little thing on the screen has a buttery smooth motion to it, and the whole screen shifts ever so slightly left and right as you turn. It’s wonderful to behold, and appreciating those visuals is the first step in getting into the vibe.
When I won my first run through the game last night, I started it up with the intention of just playing a few levels while I watched the second half of an episode of Superman: The Animated Series I had started earlier in the day. When that show finished I put on This Week Tonight with John Oliver and kept right on playing.
Everything felt good, I was grooving with the game hard.
Then, when John Oliver wrapped up his show I unlocked my true potential with one simple action.
I turned on the music in SNKRX.
This soundtrack is amazing. I am not deceiving you in any way when I say that I played the game for a whole additional hour after that. I stayed up irresponsibly late just sitting there being completely absorbed by the lofi, meditative groove that is SNKRX.
You technically beat a run when you get to level 25, which unlocks the ability to start a new run with an additional hero slot.
I GOT TO LEVEL 72!
I really, really love this game. SNKRX does a phenomenal job of blending the addictive pick-up-and-play nature of Snake with the addictive thrill of seeing auto-battler characters in action and the addictive plotting that comes from a good deck builder.
Best of all, this game is darn cheap. For how much fun I had and the fact that you can pick it up for just three bucks, it’d be irresponsible for me not to recommend it!