Sumo Digital has been on the ball over the last few years. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed was an underrated game and it looks like they’re about to score another winner with Snake Pass. Originally conceived from a Game Jam, Snake Pass is an amazingly inventive and beautiful game.
The story of Snake Pass is that you play as Noodle: A friendly snake lounging around. When the magical portals that connect the different parts of the world are turned off, it’s up to him and his hummingbird friend to reactivate them.
Right of the bat, Snake Pass looks and sounds amazing. The colors pop along with a soundtrack developed by the same composer for Yooka-Laylee and previous titles from Rare.
The gameplay of Snake Pass is very unique; I would describe it as “movement-puzzle.” You control Noodle’s head with the rest of his body providing velocity. You can climb objects as long as his body is propelling him and connected to it.
The challenge of the game is figuring out how to get Noodle from point A to point B without falling. Each level has three kinds of collectibles. There are three gemstones required to activate the portal and beat the level: Blue bubbles hidden all over the place, and coins in the hardest to reach or most hidden areas.
The levels are all designed around forcing you to twist and bend Noodle to get around. I like the idea of having three tiers of collectibles; reminding me of the different challenges of Banjo and Kazooie Nuts and Bolts.
There are checkpoints scattered around each level encase you fall into a pit or trap. For parents reading this, Snake Pass is child friendly, with death simply making Noodle disappear. Time trial mode becomes available after you beat all the levels in a world.
Snake Pass is one of those games that’s just a blast to play. Watching Noodle work his way around the environment is a hoot. The subjective difficulty of the game is dependent on how quickly you master moving like a snake.
With that said, I only have a few issues with the game.
Snake Pass is one of those games where you’ll see and make use of its main mechanic immediately. The design of the game doesn’t change or add in new abilities over time. Each world does throw in new environmental challenges, but it all comes down to your skill. The difficulty does ramp up over time; with the bonus collectibles always being harder to get. Don’t let the screenshots fool you, this is a very hard game.
The checkpoints sometimes felt imbalanced in some of the levels. There were times where I got one checkpoint one after another, and then levels where it seemed like minutes between them. The issue is that your collectible progress is only saved when you hit a checkpoint. This can be frustrating if you went for a really hard coin, grabbed it, and then died before you made it back to a checkpoint.
I’m also not a fan of the fact that the game only saves when you leave a level. Some of the later levels can be very demanding which adds to their time. I would have preferred a quick save feature as opposed to an all or nothing approach.
The camera can be your biggest enemy in the game. One of the harder sections is when you have to climb up or around multiple angles in a single section. It can be difficult to control Noodle, make sure his body is where you want it, and adjust the camera to make sure you’re seeing things correctly.
The game sets up the grab feature to give you a chance to stop and just the camera while climbing, but I had cases where the grab didn’t work. The game could have done a better job I think with educating players on making use of the grab and physics for advanced solutions.
Snake Pass is an all around great game. While it does get a little repetitive with controlling Noodle, the charm of the gameplay, graphics and soundtrack should keep you slithering along.