The mechanics are solid, there is depth in terms of content, and the execution is superb. I wouldn’t call this one a “thrill ride,” but Snuggle Truck can be your burst game, that title you play when you’ve got three minutes to spare.
It’s hard to just peg Snuggle Truck in a genre. I call it a side-scrolling racing game and then toss in the caveat that it’s highly physics-based. In the game, you control a dirty truck that can be highly reactive to the terrain its meets -- the smallest dips and jumps cause the truck to lean back and forth. You can correct its arc with the arrow keys, but you don’t do it for the safety of the vehicle -- you get lined up to protect the cargo, those cartoon animals riding in the back. Each animal is just as reactive to the truck’s trajectory, and the point is to hit the end point as quickly as possible with as many animals as possible. Easier said than done, I've learned.
There’s a lot of stuff that can get in your way in the process of getting to the end goal, the "zoo": there’s an assortment of bumps, massive hills, dips, and even a few surprise environmental objects like explosive crates that get thrown into the mix in later levels. For the most part, Owlchemy Labs does a fantastic job providing change of pace opportunities: there’s a ton of different layouts and jumps experimented with, which give you plenty to do and think about.
Hitting and landing a jump without losing your animal dudes is all in the wrist and in the finger. You can use your keys to correct the trajectory and also use the basic movement mechanic -- pressing your fingers on either the up or the down key -- to slow or speed up your truck.
Snuggle Truck introduces one new mechanic at a time, giving you the ability to slowly learn and react to obstacles as you progress through the levels. But there’s a big trial-and-error element as well since you never know what’s around the bend. One small jump, for example, can take you straight into a wall while another of the same exact kind might not present any mission critical navigational issues.
To its credit, Snuggle Truck remains fun despite its clumps of middling level design. I chock this up to its relative snappiness -- levels take, generally, under a minute to finish, so it’s not a great loss to start over again. Nor do you really need to ace a level since there’s so many in each tier.
Of course, there are carrots on sticks to chase -- Snuggle Truck goes heavy on the rewards after completion of each level. You can earn your traditional star medals, as well as completion medals based on completion and number of animals you save.
While Snuggle Truck actually feels like a game that went one direction and then the other, I recommend it. The truck controls well, the physics respond well, and the level design has that right mix of snappiness and intrigue. Check it out if you’re in the market for another racing side-scroller, and keep your eyes peeled for updates. Owlchemy Labs has crazy plans for Smuggle Truck which include implementing community-generated levels which could lead to some awesome replay value.