Launching into Early Access, Headsnatchers is the sort of party game that isn’t for the faint-hearted. The brainchild of indie team IguanaBee, this deliriously neon multiplayer is full of odd mini-games, hectic action, and bizarre heads.
The aim of Headsnatchers is, however, undeniably simple. Pluck your opponent’s head from their body and use it to win. Score a goal, go bowling, dunk a head down the toilet, or blast a head off into oblivion. With over 100 prefabricated heads available to choose from, Headscratchers immediately makes a bold statement. It looks like the sort of monstrosity that would have spawned if quirky little Funko Pops were spliced with Ubisoft’s Rabbids on a neon binge.
A range of oversized animated heads balance atop dumpy little bodies, each with a range of silly hairstyles, flashy, shades, unicorn horns, odd eyebrows, as well as some utterly commendable facial hair. If the developer’s own creations aren’t unique enough, a head editor adorns the opening menu and, strangely enough, is just as inviting as any MMO character screen I’ve played with.
It isn’t unreasonable to state that decorating your own head is a time-consuming activity. I am probably shooting short when I assume that thousands of possible permutations are available for players to combine. Facial shapes, eyes, noses, mouths, hair, and three sets of accessories are all prepared to spruce up every blank canvas. 17 exuberant colors can be used to shade each of these components. By the time I was done filling one of the 20 available custom slots, most of my morning commute had already slipped past me.
Make it beyond the character creation and you’ll find a range of game modes on offer. While Hedsnatchers thrives in its local multiplayer environment, there is also an online option and a single player mode. Single player in Headsnatchers is a quirky mish-mash of Headscratchers outrageous aesthetic and a B movie romp. This Zombie Castle challenge is an isometric platformer that acts as a fantastic tutorial for the game, jumping, dashing, and blasting through waves of zombies that seem particularly partial to brains. There are only a few controls to get to grips with here, and these are, thankfully, consistent throughout the rest of the game. When players have a grasp of their character’s controls, the multiplayer mode really starts to come into its own.
Tornado and 2v2 modes make for a range of couch-based capers that are utterly brimming with personality. NFL matches, bowling alleys, and football pitches are just a few of the stages available to play through. 25 maps are available right now and the inclusion of a purple pirate ship is especially silly. Incoming cannon fire, the constrained confines of the main deck, and a working helm makes for short bursts of anarchy while players aim for success. In Headsnatchers this revolves around one simple concept, bash an opponent until their head can be popped off and finally deposited in the relevant repository. It is a thoroughly satisfying way to humiliate your friends and loved ones that had me and my opponents throwing almost as many expletives as heads, all in the name of a good time.
An online multiplayer mode is currently active in Headsnatchers but is in beta. While this version has several maps, it can play like a paired down version of local adventures. This is sure to change as more maps come online and the game population increases, but for now it is worth noting that it exists and that it plays without any issues.
As if popping a head off a random stranger and blasting it out to sea wasn’t strange enough, IguanaBee includes a roulette game mode that is a tad more than just a random stage selection. Roulette mode presents like a kitsch Japanese game show, complete with cheesy announcements, a stage, roulette wheel, and an introduction sequence. Really, it is all for show but couldn’t help but charm me with its ridiculous facade. The game’s soundtrack is another aspect of IguanaBee’s presentation that really managed to charm me. Retro-inspired electronic tunes and quirky upbeat synth tracks are threaded throughout. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team at IguanaBee spent way too much time in a Japanese arcade when they considered this idea. However, it works fantastically.
In the end, Hedsnatchers is a simple idea that is very well executed. At first glance, a game like Headsnatchers seems easy to invent but everything from the deliberately retro soundtrack, to the huge character creation system, and the variety of utterly eccentric challenges all meld together to make a great party game. Personally, I can’t wait to see Hedsnatchers when it launches out of early access. If you want to jump in early, Headsnatchers is available on steam for $14.99.