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!
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.
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).
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.)
More Secret Santa info: Steam