What’s interesting about Snake Pass is how familiar it feels while at the same time being unlike anything I have played. Slithering around objects and holding on for dear life is a thrilling way to approach the platforming genre. And while it is short on levels and story, it certainly provides enough interesting mechanics to warrant your time.
Loss For Words
The game puts you in control of a snake named Noodle and his bird companion Doodle. Noodle is abruptly woken from his nap by Doodle to discover that the gate that allows the duo to travel between worlds is in danger of being sealed shut. The only way to prevent this from happening is to search for 3 missing keystones hidden throughout each of the worlds to open all the gates for good.
Sadly this is the extent of the story besides very minor cut scenes that are revealed later in the game. However, even those scenes do little to add to an overall narrative. This is rather disappointing because I found myself falling in love with the design of the two main characters, Noodle and Doodle, but I wish they were given more backstory and dialogue to help solidify them as great characters.
Become The Snake
What becomes immediately apparent, however, is the unique controls that force you to think like a snake. Where in a normal platforming game one might jump, Noodle is limited to winding through and around objects in order to climb and maneuver the games fifteen collectible-filled stages. While it sounds easy enough Noodle’s unique control scheme can be difficult to master. One trigger allows Noodle to move forward while the other allows him to grip objects tightly when constricting. The final input allows Noodle to raise his head in order to slither up bamboo shoots, rocks, and ledges in order to inspect every crevice of the individual maps.
When platforming becomes the most difficult is when Noodle is forced to traverse moving structures over spike pits and ledges, and one wrong move could spell the end for your slithering friend. While Snake Pass can be challenging it is often quite rewarding. Finally grabbing that just out of reach collectible or overcoming that rotating platform leaves you with enough encouragement to take on the next challenge. And it will be a challenge if you want to find every hidden object.
Each world contains three collectibles that must be obtained before advancing. Optional collectibles, however, such as the twenty blue orbs and five gold coins offer a more difficult challenge if you want to hundred percent each level. Luckily dying in a level quickly revives you at the last reached checkpoint. But since checkpoints can be far in between hard to reach collectibles, it can be frustrating to repeat difficult challenges if you fail.
Whats Old Is New Again
The colorful and whimsical worlds of Snake Pass are certainly inspired by the Rare games that dominated the N64. The art style while reminiscent of games like Banjo-Kazooie, is gorgeous. Whether slithering through the bright green grass or diving into the deep blue pools of water you can’t help but take in the beauty of each of the worlds. Even the music is reminiscent of games like Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie. I often found myself turning up the volume while playing just to hear the catchy soundtrack over my cheerful humming of the tunes.
Where the design does feel a little clunky however, is that each of its levels are separated without any sort of hub world connecting them. Instead, you will be using menu screens to advance to each new level. Which sometimes did take me out of the experience since the menu screens are not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the levels themselves.
Maybe Next Time
The game’s length may seem short at only fifteen levels. And while just completing the main challenge can be done in an afternoon, it will take a lot of time and practice if you want to hundred percent all fifteen stages. This offers plenty of replay value. Snake Pass also feels like the kind of game you might break out when company is over as well. While the game only supports a single-player mode, it’s just as fun to watch as it is to play and there are plenty of laughs to be had when the difficulty ramps up.
The game offers plenty of content to justify its twenty dollar price tag, though it is a little scant of diversity. It takes over half of the game for the theme of the levels to change from jungle environments to volcanic lava filled ones. This left me wishing that the game could be longer and experiment more with different level themes, such as slippery ice levels or zero gravity space levels. But who knows this could be something we see in a potential sequel to Snake Pass.
Don’t Pass On Snake Pass
Snake Pass manages to be charming and challenging in a way that feels fresh and nostalgic. While I do wish there was more to experience in the game, I feel that is only a testament to the fact that I want to play more of it. While some bumps in the road could be avoided in a potential sequel, Snake Pass is definitely a game worthy of your attention.
Snake Pass is available for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The Nintendo Switch version was used for this review and was purchased by the reviewer.
Snake Pass [Xbox One, PS, Switch, PC]
Developer: SUMO Digital
Publisher: Sumo Digital Ltd
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
MSRP: 19.99 USD