Snapchat has officially launched its gaming platform Snap Games, and one of its inaugural games is one that will almost definitely be a certifiable hit. Snapchat's Tiny Royale is a battle royale game you can play without ever leaving the Snapchat app. An even bigger plus? It's actually pretty fun.
Snap Games are meant to be played right within Snapchat right from any conversation you're having in the app. All you have to do is look for the rocket ship icon to the right of where you enter your text, then select the game you'd like to play from the dropdown list. You can continue carrying on your conversation, and then jump into a game to play together, all without having to get off your smartphone. It's pretty simple, and pretty genius.
Tiny Royale is available to choose right now, as well as a variety of other games, including Alphabear Hustle, Snake Squad, Zombie Rescue Squad, and Bitmoji Party. Out of these, however, Tiny Royale is by far the most ambitious. I was able to take it for a spin on launch day, and I came away quite pleased with what I found, save for a few hiccups.
Tiny Royale takes all the fundamentals of popular games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and distills them into an extremely simple, pocket-sized version of your standard battle royale. The top-down shooter, developed by Zynga (FarmVille, Words with Friends), plays just like you'd expect. Matches take place among up to 30 players at a time, and you can invite up to three other Snapchat friends to play alongside you in squads of four. If you prefer to fly solo, you can do that too.
Your starting options in terms of customization are pretty bare. I could only choose from a plain male or female avatar, neither of which were especially aesthetically pleasing. I chose the female avatar for a few rounds before switching to the male one, but both were pretty unexciting, if I'm being honest.
If you're wanting to make your in-game avatar look more like you, you'll be in for some disappointment. Customization is practically non-existent, save for the different "costumes" you can choose from. That means you get some control over what you look like in-game.
They can be purchased with the coins you earn after each match. Unfortunately, the ones currently up for grabs are quite gaudy to start off with, and very expensive, for the most part. There's a daily deal that gives you a percentage off of a certain costume, but you'll be left checking back each day if it's not the one you hope to be able to afford at the moment.
Perhaps that's something Zynga will tackle in the future, but for now you're relegated to those weird costumes. Some different hair colors, hairstyles, and "normal" attire would be welcome additions to the game in the future. (Not everyone wants to look like a clown, dude in a horse mask, or a luchador.) Additional female avatar options would be especially useful, too. It's puzzling why Zynga left out the ability to edit your own avatar when Snapchat itself is based on customizable, cartoony versions of its users.
Luckily, combat itself is where the game truly shines. You aren't waiting long before you're whisked away to a queue, where you can select a quadrant of the map to drop down and play on. It's split up into a grid-like map with plenty of different drop zones to start on.
When you land, you're tasked with immediately finding a weapon to mow down other players with. You're equipped with a club, so you're not completely defenseless, but it simply doesn't have the range or firepower you need to deal with other enemies. It's hunt or be hunted, and the fastest player to get to a weapon that works for them will end up succeeding. In this, it's mostly about luck and evading others' shots.
You can pick up health packs, armor, and a variety of weapons including shotguns, machine guns, crossbows, and even bombs as the game progresses. The on-screen controls are surprisingly accurate, and I experienced no lag during matches. All you need to really focus on is killing off any player that comes near you before they kill you. As the match goes on, the "safe zone" of the map will continue to shrink. If you're caught outside of the safe zone when it begins to shrink, you'll automatically be eliminated. Don't let that be you! Make sure you go out honorably by being taken out by another player, not because you were too far outside the safe area.
Each complete match only lasts around one or two minutes, but that's depending on how proficient you are. If you're trying to get your bearings and an enemy comes along and takes you out, the game's over for you in a few seconds. You don't get to respawn, since that's the nature of battle royale games. You'll have to wait for the game to be over and join a new lobby, which doesn't take very long, thankfully. It can be frustrating at first to try and survive, but once you've played a few rounds, you'll learn a few tricks that will help you last all the way through the top 10 and beyond. You may even snag your first victory of the rest of the players!
When I first started playing, I was routinely eliminated early on in the competition. A few dozen matches later, however, and I was finishing n the top 10 regularly. It's extremely simple to pick up and play and eventually become proficient at. If you've been thinking about getting into a battle royale game, but feel like you may not be into the difficult or hardcore aspects of Fortnite and similar titles, Tiny Royale may be more your speed.
There's even more in the works for Tiny Royale, too. Later this summer, the game will be welcoming a competitive mode in the form of Tiny Royale Leagues. Players will be placed in groups of 100 people with 30 different tiers. You'll compete with others in an attempt to rank up throughout scattered game seasons, as you earn different rewards for defeating the opponents assigned to you. There isn't a ton of information about what qualifications players will have to possess for Tiny Royale Leagues, but it's an interesting premise that will no doubt take off.
The game is rudimentary and the graphics aren't the greatest – and you could always play a mobile version of Fortnite or another battle royale, but Tiny Royale excels in its simplicity. It's quick, fun to play in bite-sized bursts, and doesn't require a lot of practice to get better.
If you're an avid Snapchat user and want another way to interact with your friends, Tiny Royale is a great, free game to start with.