Snow Fortress

If the holiday hustle and bustle has your anxiety through the roof and you need to take out some aggression, Snow Fortress is for you.  This game presents itself as a fun, cute game, but still provides ample potential for fun.  The seasonal theme, adorable characters and kid-friendly gameplay provide the perfect setup for a game that focuses on good ole' fashioned fun.  The objective of the game is to throw snowballs, build your snow fortress and stave off enemy snowmen in three different game modes.  

Controls

Snow Fortress uses two motion controllers and a limited number of buttons, allowing for easy gameplay and straight-forward instruction.  Using the trigger button allows you to automatically create the perfect snowball to demolish your enemy's face with.  The triangle button opens up a menu that allows you to restart a level, go back to the main menu or adjust settings.  

Gameplay

I had my doubts about this game initially, but my doubt soon faded as I dodged an incoming snowball while I heaved on of my own into the enemies fortress, crumbling a section of his fort.  In simple terms, you just make a snowball, throw it to break your enemy's fortress, then take him down while avoiding the snowballs coming your way.  It is a very simple idea, but in VR it was surprisingly more fun than you would think.  There are three different modes that you can currently play in:

Snow Fort

Snow Fort is the only unlocked mode when beginning Snow Fortress.  To begin, you are given a time limit and a limited number of snow blocks to build your fortress to protect you from incoming snowballs.  Once building is finished, you begin throwing snowballs at the enemy snowman's fortress to break it down.  Typically the snowman is hidden behind his fortress and once exposed you can either repeatedly hit him until his health is gone or hit him hard enough that he falls over.  This is simple gameplay, but is really fun because it is like you are having a snowball fight.  This mode consists of 19 different levels that must be unlocked by defeating the previous level.  

Survival

Survival is my personal favorite among the three modes because it is faster paced and has a higher sense of urgency.  Like Snow Fort, you begin by building a fortress around you.  However, unlike Snow Fort, you don't know where your enemies are or where the snowballs will be thrown from so you need a much more encompassing snow fortress.  As the game begins, snowmen will appear in the distance and move closer to you while throwing snowballs.  You must eliminate the snowmen before you run out of health.  This is more fun because there is pressure to hit them as they inch closer to you.  The longer you survive the more snowmen that pop up so you could be dodging and attempting to throw snowballs at 3 or 4 different snowmen.  

Fortress

Fortress is the last game mode currently (more on that later) and resembles a tower defense game, just with a twist.  You begin by seeing a snow fortress already built in front of you and your goal is to defend it against the Black Fort, an enemy snowman group.  You will be given a certain number of snowmen to place that will defend your fortress and a number of snow blocks.  So you place the snowmen to help attack the opposing enemies and then use the snow blocks to guard your snowmen.  As the enemy approaches you are able to take control of any of your snowmen and start throwing your own snowballs to defend.  I love the idea because in most tower defenses after placing your pieces you just sit back and watch, but here they allow you to become part of the action.  Although I love the idea, for some reason I just couldn't get into this mode as much.  

Multi-Player

So this mode is not yet available for PSVR users, however, it is on the way.  Once this mode is added, the value of this game will increases significantly.  Having a snowball fight with other PSVR users online sounds like a blast.  Not only will it be the most fun mode in my opinion, but it will also add an immense amount of replay value to this game.  I am most excited about this capability and can't wait for it to be available.  Lets just hope it doesn't take too long. 

So the gameplay is fun and I enjoyed the content.  The Snow Fort mode is only 19 levels, which will take a while to get through, but once you have the replay value won't be high.  Survival mode is really fun and you are competing against yourself so this is a great addition.  The Fortress mode I wasn't a fan of.  So all of this to say that I really think this game needs the multi-player capability pretty badly.  After you get through all the levels and hone your skills the novelty of the game will wear thin and you will become disinterested quickly.  However, a multiplayer mode will eliminate this and ultimately give the game much more staying power. 

The difficulty of the game is just about right.  The big issue I think one would have is if you don't take your time to adjust your tracking right off the bat.  I did not take my time and paid the consequence because it was very hard to throw and couldn't reach the ground.  The system had a hard time tracking my movements so it made it very difficult to build my fortress or throw the snowballs.  So if you buy this game be sure to adjust your camera and playspace accordingly.  

While playing there are a couple cool in-game upgrades that are valuable.  First, you get a slingshot that allows you to shoot snowballs faster and harder.  That way you can do heavy damage to a fortress while just repeatedly beaming it with snowballs.  There are also snow blocks with a question mark on them that provide extra health, repairs your fortress, etc.  One thing I enjoyed about the game is that the harder you throw in real life the harder the snowball is thrown in the game.  This may seem like a given, but it would have been easy for the game to disregard the real life physics and cap the throwing speed.  So it is very fulfilling (and beneficial) to wind up and throw a heater to do more damage to the opponents fort.

Another thing to note is that this game involves strategy.  Right off the bat you wouldn't think so, but you cant just throw up a fortress and start chucking snowballs.  You have to place the snow blocks very carefully so that you protect yourself while allowing for room to throw your own snowballs accurately.  You can do damage to your own fort if you hit it by accident. I like the aspect of creating your own fortress each level, however, it is somewhat hard to do because of the controls.  If your tracking is off, forget it.  You won't be able to control the blocks at all and it will make for a mess.  Regardless, this is one of the most fun aspects of the game.  

improvements

  • I enjoyed my time with Snow Fortress a lot, but there are a couple things that need to be addressed.  The first we already talked about.  The game needs multiplayer capabilities to make it a worth-while investment.  However, the game will be getting that capability so that is a good sign. 

 

  • The second thing is a worry about the seasonal theme of the game.  Right now it is perfect because it is December, Christmas is around the corner and the game fits perfectly for our current mood.  It seemingly is a very seasonal game.  However, what happens when March comes? I don't see many people playing this when it is August or June.  But maybe this is a game that you buy, play now and then pull it out again next November.  Most games we don't play year-round so maybe I am making too big of a deal about it.  

final thoughts

Snow Fortress is a fun game and I think in the right setting and with the right expectations this game can be a ton of fun and well worth the $15 investment. I believe that this is a wonderful party game and one that is perfect for first time PSVR players or a younger audience.  This is perfect for when your family comes over and you can turn the headset on and pass it around easily for each person to get a chance to join in the fun.  And because it is so seasonally relevant, it will be perfect for the next 2 months.  

I know that the graphics, gameplay and general theme will not catch the eyes of a serious gamer.  This game isn't for everybody and if you want a hardcore, flashy, spine-tingling PSVR experience Snow Fortress just isn't for you.  But if you go into it willing to embrace the fun kid-friendly gameplay then you can have a total hoot with this game.  I really encourage you not to pass over Snow Fortress because there is a lot of fun to be gained here and could be one of the more surprisingly fun party games of the year.