Snipperclips is a game that sees two or more players using their Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers to manipulate their own bell-shaped paper blob to overlap other players and use their bodies to cut shapes into their friends. These shapes are then used to solve any number of geometric puzzles. That’s it. That’s the whole game.
And it’s great.
It’s the simplicity of Snipperclips that makes it the perfect co-operative experience, but its the necessary social aspect that makes it art. This is a game that revolves around communication. You and your partner need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in order to solve a lot of these puzzles. There’s a lot of “Why don’t I” and “What if you turn,” “What if we” and “Okay, wait. We’ve stuffed up. We have to start over.” Every game of Snipperclips I played with friends would escalate into good natured sledging and lots of excited yelling when we’d crack a puzzle we’d spent fifteen frustrated minutes trying to solve. It must have been a no-brainer for Nintendo to give this title a green light — Snipperclips is everything they’re going for with the Switch. It’s fun, easy to learn and a joy to play with friends.
The game’s art style is one of its greatest assets, crafted by illustrator Catherine Unger, who has worked with Snipperclips creators the Vian brothers before. Each level is designed with an eye for detail, the relevant puzzle mechanics always clearly defined against the background detritus. There are even cleverly disguised hints frequently hidden in the background of many levels so, if you get stuck, it can be worth your while to space out and stare into the back of the screen for a while.
Snipperclips can be played in single player mode but I really do have to insist you go out and find someone to play it with. You have the benefit of not needing to buy spare controllers — the game can be played with the two Joy-Cons that come packed in with your Switch console, one for each of you. The Joy-Con is held horizontally and use the control stick, L and R shoulder buttons to rotate your character a full 360 degrees, A button to cut, B to jump and Y to reform yourself should you get a bit enthusiastic with your clipping. This control scheme remains the same whether you’re running the game in TV Mode or on the Switch screen in Tabletop Mode (though some may find it a bit hard to see in Tabletop Mode).
Every solution, whether it involves a prop (push a button, swing a lantern on a chain, turn a few cogs, push a pencil into a sharpener) or simply matching a specific geometric configuration requires cutting Snip and Clip (the two characters) into utilitarian shapes. As a player, its frequently left to you to come up with a way to solve the current puzzle, and a lot of the time there’s more than one way to do so.
It’s not the puzzles themselves that are the true highlight, however. It’s the social interactions that lead to their solving. You’ll find yourself screeching things like “Make me a scoop. Make me a scoop,” at your friends as your brain begins to form possible puzzle solutions in real time. In this, Snipperclips is a great way know which of your friends are lateral thinkers and who are not.
There’s only two complaints I have — the first of which becomes readily apparent as the game moves forward. This is that the later puzzles start to require finer and finer degrees of control that the Joy-Cons can’t quite provide. They go from feeling like a good match for the game’s mechanics to uncomfortably fiddly and irritatingly small. I also found myself regularly forgetting which buttons did what, spending ages getting the right angle on a particular clip only to hit the wrong button and ruin everything.
It’s hard to actually ruin everything, especially if you’re playing in front of an audience. Snipperclips will get laughs from even the most stoic crowd and the more voices who can affect the antics on the screen, the better the game seems to become.
If you have a few extra Joy-Cons lying around you can actually take the game all the way up to four players. This unlocks a raft of entirely new puzzles built for the larger player sizes, but are often very reminiscent of ones you solved in the two-player mode. There are also competitive Blitz game modes that are perfect for the trolls among your friends and will keep them from cutting you to shreds as you to try to solve puzzles together.
This brings me to my second complaint — once you’ve cracked each of the game’s puzzles, there’s not much reason to go back to Snipperclips. That is, unless you’ve found someone who hasn’t played it yet that you can introduce to it. That said, the game is extremely cheap, available on the e-Shop and is a great way to show your friends exactly what the Switch is capable of and the exact gaming space in which it will be strongest in the future.
Score: 8.0 out of 10
Highlights: Great puzzles; Great co-op; Wonderful social component
Lowlights: Limited replay value; Controls a bit finicky in later levels
Developer: SFB Games
Release date: Out now
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.