16W - 22W
Above Snakes was provided by Square Glade Games for review. Thank you!
Create your world piece by piece in this isometric RPG. Inspired by the wild west, Above Snakes will drop you into a sandbox where the possibilities are endless. Craft, hunt, fish, and build your fortress to overcome the challenges you will face, all while building out the rest of the world tile by tile. With a light story and long-term progression for added replay value, this will be a survival experience you won't want to put down.
I have played many survival games where building, crafting, and hunting are all key components of the gameplay loop, and while this is similar in some ways, there are a couple that really make this one stand out. The biggest standout with this one is the ability to create your world by placing land tiles. This allows you to create certain biomes in specific areas, which is a really cool concept. I also enjoyed the more relaxing atmosphere of the game, not putting huge emphasis on needing to grind and rush to survive.
On the other hand, combat is a bit on the simple side and the story, which is not the main focus, is very basic and short. If you are looking for a longer or more intricate survival game, then I wouldn't look here. But if you want something short, sweet, interesting, and more laid back, Above Snakes will be the game for you! With that in mind, playing on the Steam Deck is a wonderful way to enjoy, but it won't be a simple pick up and play.
I was really hoping that, with the visuals being less complex than other 3D games, this would be a bit easier to run on the Steam Deck, but there are some issues. Above Snakes can be extremely demanding, especially when there are buildings and you are in the middle of 4 different tiles. Without any caps, the game can even go up to 22W drain to just keep a stable 30 (on default settings). And with little to no settings to change, other than an overall graphics option, there aren't a ton of options.
There is also the case of the camera. You can zoom into your character and that will result in better performance, but you won't see as far. Zoom out and you will see much more, but performance will suffer. I tried to test at all varying zoom lengths, but your results may be a little different depending on the zoom. I also noticed that some menus, like the cooking screen, drain the game more.
The recommended build was hard to make as I really wanted to push the game to 40 without compromising so much fidelity. But even with graphics on low, there were still sections that dipped below 40 without a cap. So, prioritizing battery and a stable framerate, I elected for low graphics and a 30 FPS cap. This allowed me to keep battery ranging from 10W - 13W (with some spikes above) and a solid 30. It did seem to hold this line at each camera zoom, with further away draining a bit more. But this was overall VERY playable.
With the graphics being low, I wanted to see if there would be a way to play with the highest graphics. Luckily, there is, but it does require a TDP limit of 13 or higher and a 30 FPS cap. This still won't be 100% stable, usually in the same areas outlined above, but it is playable like this. Just expect a large battery drain that will need to keep your Deck plugged in.
I proceeded to start investigating how I could possibly get framerate up to a stable point. While this can't really be done out of the box or using in-game settings, forcing a lower resolution through Steam helps out a bunch. I did go all the way down to 800x500 to see if I could get a stable 50, but there were still too many moments that would go down. With that, on top of the glistening grass and lower quality overall, I elected to take a different route.
The framerate build forces resolution to 1024x640 and aims for 40 FPS with a medium overall quality. This works pretty well and, combined with FSR Sharpness 0, keeps the game looking great. The grass still glistens at times and there are some minor stutters, but these are minimal and won't impact the gameplay at all.
I also want to take a moment here to give credit to Square Glade Games for bringing in full controller support and doing it quite well. While I did forget how to swap between pinned items a couple times, the rest was pretty straightforward. It isn't easy for survival games like this to have good controller support and I am happy to say this one really does. It also supports 16:10 aspect ratios so there will be no black bars and has cloud saves.
Above Snakes is an enjoyable, simple survival RPG that weaves in some unique mechanics that make it feel quite different. It is a bit on the relaxing side, so don't expect in-depth combat or a deep story, but it does the job while retaining the charm of the world you are expanding yourself. Controller support here is phenomenal and I love this kind of game on the Steam Deck. Even with some of the performance woes, Above Snakes is more than playable even with sacrifices and I would happily dive back in on the Deck!
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
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Above Snakes is a laid back survival RPG that includes some unique world expanding elements, though it does need some tweaks for the Steam Deck.
No Forced Compatibility
16W - 22W
70c - 78c
1.5 - 2 hours
FSR Sharpness 0
No Forced Compatibility
Force Resolution: 1024x640
15W - 21W
68c - 76c
2 - 2.5 hours