(Review) Secret Santa

Have you ever felt like games with Santa as the main character are completely overlooked and/or under represented? No? Well you wouldn’t be the only one. I have never thought about playing as Santa in a game… ever. Not even in those really weird dreams you don’t tell shrinks because they’d lock you up. Thankfully, some people out there have more imagination than myself and are able to put together Santa and some stealth gameplay and it turns out, it’s quite fun!

Santa isn't the only person that needs a break after a long ... days work. Does the Krampus work/prepare all year for this day?

Santa isn’t the only person that needs a break after a long … days work. Does the Krampus work/prepare all year for this day? I know he worked out all year to prepare for this game! He’s got a wicked pair of guns and he uses them liberally!

I’m going to tackle the glaring bits right out of the gate. One could say that the art assets are basic, but they do the job well. Simple, but effective. In fact, I think the simple look worked very well for Secret Santa and if it looked better, it might take away from what felt so good about Secret Santa. That is, except for the animals that pounce on you. They kind of look like cats sleeping and then when they pounce on you they look like Scottish terriers. I’m not sure what they are supposed to be, but they still were the bane of my existence when I played this in beta. This brings up the next bit of nit-pickery: hit boxes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll “die” a lot because of not knowing what it is the “enemies” are line-of-siting. It’s based off of your shadow. Knowing that upped my survival time by at least eleventeen percent (I’m sure that’s a real number). Seriously though, keep your eyes on your shadow and you can bob-and-weave like a boss through the obstacles.

On your quest to 100% Secret Santa you'll need to find a few hard to get to items like cookies and menorahs.

On your quest to 100% Secret Santa you’ll need to find a few hard-to-get items like cookies and Menorah.

As you progress through the different lists, you’ll be introduced to a host of different obstacles ranging from lasers to kids that should be in bed to murderous psychos that… share houses with old ladies who sleep with shotguns trained against walls. One thing’s for sure, the universe being introduced by Project Tranquil is crazy and I wouldn’t want to live in it. Would anyone want to live in a world where Santa has to worry for his life? He’s coming to give you free stuff. Mr. Krampus on the other hand… even though he’s only taking the naughty kids, that’s kidnapping and he’s got it coming. Even my daughter, watching me, asked my why I was playing the bad guy (simply based off of visual cues).

Crazy Grandmas are crazy!

Crazy Grandmas are crazy!

As you progress in Secret Santa nothing gets anything added to you. This isn’t an RPG and you’ll have to be satisfied with your sleeping dust. Speaking of sleeping dust, you only get three per level. You’ll have to be diligent on who you use them on. Sure it can seem useful to knock out the first few people you see to get that initial difficulty down, but what if there is a need for it later on? In most levels, I’d say that the dust is more of a “make the level easier” mechanic. However, in some levels you’ll actually need to use it to get past specific obstacles. At times the dev blocked a path with a granny that doesn’t sleep and she’s ready to pop-a-cap on any Santa-dressed fool willing to roam in front of her. You’ll have to get behind her and take her out. Sometimes you’ll only know you need some dust as you’re heading to the exit the only way possible and Mr. Dev Guy decided on one last trap… what a jerk. Now if you’re Krampus, you don’t get sleeping dust. You’ll just have to live with punching everything in the face! It’s actually rather satisfying as the last mechanic for the last few levels. (Is that a spoiler alert? … Naaaaah.)

I was not one to support putting this game up so late as I expected it out a long time ago... last year I believe? But having now waited, we're given more content than there was in the beta. While this shouldn't surprise me, it does, but I'm glad the guys over at Project Tranquil put it off and put some more love into this title. We're given the opportunity to be the Krampus and yoink bad kids and also to deliver presents on Mars to boot!

I was not one to support putting this game up so late as I expected it out a long time ago… last year I believe? Having waited, we’re given more content than there was in the beta. While this shouldn’t surprise me, it does, but I’m glad the guys over at Project Tranquil put it off and put some more love into Secret Santa. We’re given the opportunity to be the Krampus and yoink bad kids and also to deliver presents on Mars to boot!

More Secret Santa info: Steam

I haven't felt like getting 100% on a Steam game in a very long time. Maybe it's the fact that it's a Santa game with stealth. Maybe it's because it's a game created by a friend. Maybe it's because I've played most of this game when it was a "beta". Maybe it's because my name is in the credits... who is to say one way or another. I do know one thing, Secret Santa is an enjoyable game that will probably fly under most people's radar. In the end, while the presentation may be basic, Secret Santa is a solid game with some good stealth mechanics. I've spent more for less with my own games and enjoyed playing through all the levels. Small indie devs need love when they do a good job, this is one of those times!

I haven’t felt like getting 100% on a Steam game in a very long time. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a Santa game with stealth. Maybe it’s because it’s a game created by a friend. Maybe it’s because I’ve played most of this game when it was in “beta”. Maybe it’s because my name is in the credits… who is to say one way or another. I do know one thing, Secret Santa is an enjoyable game that will probably fly under most people’s radar. In the end, while the presentation may be basic, Secret Santa is a solid game with some good stealth mechanics. I’ve spent more for less with my own games and enjoyed playing through all the levels. Small indie devs need love when they do a good job, this is one of those times.

Jonathan Amarelo Sig

 


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