Puzzle-platformer Snapshot arrives quietly, having been several years in the making, and offering a high concept that sounds like it should have existed forever but actually is all its own.
Cutesy characters, jumping and traversing mini-mazes to reach an exit - these are all par for the course for platforms games old and new. Snapshot's twist is to add a perpetual camera viewfinder , a shimmering square controlled with the mouse while you make your little robot character move with the keyboard. The 'camera' can, with a left-click, capture certain parts of the level, and then with a right-click recreate them elsewhere.
At its most simple, this involves moving a crate from one spot to another so you can use it as a step to a higher platform. Simple doesn't last long - you'll quickly find yourself capturing wandering elephants to use as trampolines, snagging gigantic snowballs mid-motion and having them finish their roll elsewhere, or combining multiple parts of the scenery to create new objects.
It sounds complicated, but the beauty of Snapshot is that it always seems low-key and intuitive. Sure, some levels frustrate in the way some levels in all platformers frustrate, but that's never because the camera concept is overwhelming. Snapshot keeps a lid on things by only allowing some parts of the level to be captured, so you can't grab just any old block, and beyond that it throws in spots that prevent the capture/recreation of anything whatsoever. So you're always assembling a solution and a path from evident parts rather than wildly photographing any old thing.
It is aesthetically a little uninspiring, apparently more interested in recreating a retro look than being particularly characterful in its own right (it's difficult to summon any feeling whatsoever towards its mute robotic star), but at least it's non-fussy and straightforward. It looks like it could be any old iPhone platformer, but that photography mechanic, and the precision and speed with which it often needs to be deployed, means this is a PC and console game through and through. It's far from lightweight, despite appearances, and manages to wring a generous amount of novelty from its concept: you really won't be simply teleporting blocks around the place for long.
Those who like to master rather than simply complete will be glad to hear each level houses a hidden collectible to find, and bonus points can be had by beating each level in record time, but this is entirely optional. To Snapshot's eternal credit it doesn't lose sight of the need to be elegant and accessible at the same time as being challenging. It might be (perhaps too) consciously retro, but in its ideas and in its approach it also understands what it is to be a 21st century game.