Snatcher is early Hideo Kojima work, only available in English on the Sega CD, and it’s weird. So cyberpunk, but so weird. You could pretty much cover this game in honey, glitter, and ants and it wouldn’t be any weirder than it already is. As a brief overview of the plot, there are robots known as snatchers who murder people and then take on their appearance. You’re a Junker, which means your job is to hunt these things down and kill them while trying to piece together the reasons behind why they do what they do. This is difficult because their disguises are so complete that it’s virtually impossible to differentiate between a human and a snatcher.
So again, the game is totally weird. At the same time, it’s pretty much a masterpiece. It’s short and strange on many different levels, but it also manages to be incredibly endearing. Most of that comes from the characters who wind up being surprisingly likable. The voice acting is pretty great overall, especially for the time, and the many voiced lines lend themselves nicely to the personalities of those you encounter. In a world where pretty much anyone could be a killer robot disguised as a friend, who can you trust? Obviously the answer is another robot, because the two robots cancel out. That’s just math. Or maybe not, but you do get a little robot named Metal Gear to follow you around and judge you, either way. It’s an adorable little pain-in-the-ass bot, and it’s kind of amusing to watch it be a dick to everyone.
Gameplay is incredibly simple and boils down to searching places and talking to people with rare combat sequences occasionally thrown in. Most of the game is dialogue, but there’s a surprising amount of voice acting in the game that gives it a lot of character and keeps those who hate reading from having to exercise their eyes. The written dialogue, however, is entertaining and tends to alternate between moments of shock, sadness, and humor. You’ll be mourning a death one moment, then be hitting on random women on the street the next. That’s how real life should be. “Hey baby, let’s mourn your loss at my place.”
As the plot unfolds, you’ll probably be left surprised. The story seems to go in one direction, then suddenly shifts and turns the world upside down. Your character will be hopeful one moment, then defeated the next, then kinky after that. Occasionally, he’ll manage to be a twisted combination of the three, which is why I highly recommend playing this alone. On second thought, if you have a Sega CD handy, chances are you’re probably alone to start with. No offense.
Combat pisses me off. The screen is divided into a 3×3 grid and you have to aim with the d-pad in order to take down enemies. The combat sections are rare and start off easier than a nineties pop star, but later on in the game it becomes a huge irritation, also like a nineties pop star. The problem is that the whole thing is twitch-based, which feels totally out of place in such a dialogue-heavy game. I consider this to be the achilles’ heel of Snatcher. It’s annoying and unnecessary and I hope that Hideo Kojima cries himself to sleep over it (and Metal Gear Solid 4, but that’s a story for another time).
Here’s what you should do: