If there was ever proof that there's still room for weird in the world of gaming, this twin-stick shooter centering around a trigger-happy mollusk might be it. Clid the Snail is a strange, almost nightmarish mix of Dark Crystal fantasy aesthetics, top-down gun violence, and trippy storytelling. It's hard to think of anything to compare it to unless you've ever taken mushrooms, fallen face down in your backyard, and found yourself surrounded by bouncing slug entrails and aggressive bluebottles.
Slugging it out
Your hero Clid is no cartoonish Earthworm Jim, but a surly, heavily armed, possibly alcoholic adventurer who is exiled from a cozy life in his world's Citadel to explore the dark lands beyond. This isn't the sort of snail who might be idly crunched beneath your boot into a smear on the pavement, his shell can shoot barrages of rockets, and he's packing grenades. Exploring the world, you'll meet other similarly feisty minibeasts, like slugs and flies, a big old Tremor-style worm, and the safest option is usually to blast them to bits. Playing through a preview and trying out a few of the guns – a laser beam and an SMG were highlights – I ultimately liked the shotgun for the way it turned oncoming enemies into messes of intestines.
Twin-stick, top-down shooters always have that slight whiff of retro to them and can easily feel fiddly or too chaotic to control, but Clid the Snail, at least in the PC preview slice we got to slime through, feels satisfyingly messy and explosive when you're in the midst of a battle. Moving around the field of combat is everything, swapping quickly between weapons, throwing down some mines, a grenade, and then unleashing a devastating shell special attack. Apparently, Clid can swap shells to use other special attacks like acid, which frankly raises more questions than it answers, and I will be consulting an entomologist forthwith.
Slime flies when you're having fun
It's not all death-flavored slime though. Clid does have friends, like faithful firefly companion Belu, and he'll make more along the way. The adventure will, developer Weird Beluga Studio promises, have Clid meet up with other outcasts like a hedgehog, a bat, a chameleon, and a *checks notes* ninja frog. There are puzzles too, you'll need to find keys to access certain parts of the world, or an instantly fatal death beam might need to be carefully relocated to clear a safe path.
For all the action, the game isn't skimping on world-building or narrative. There are beautiful details dotted about the landscape that hint at a human world – a giant fork marking the way on a road – and while the narrative is pretty out of control, even in the small section we played, it felt like a world you want to know more about. Laid over the top of it all is a soundtrack that alternates between melancholy piano and ominous drums, which is really punching above its weight in terms of atmosphere
Clid the Snail is the result of the PlayStation Talents initiative in Weird Beluga Studios's home country of Spain, which awarded it awards for Best Art and Best Game in 2019. The studio's prize included support from Sony Interactive Entertainment Spain in developing and marketing the game, which is why it will appear on PS4 as a timed-exclusive this summer. That such a strange game can still win the backing of a major platform holder is heartening, and this angry little snail man certainly looks like he's going to prove that taking a chance on a truly bonkers idea can really pay off.
Clid the Snail will release on PS4 as a timed exclusive this summer, and then later this year on PC. A PS5 release is also planned, but there's no release date right now.