Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sumo Digital
Release Date: 28 March 2017
Price: $19.99 / £16.99
Reviewed By Phil Myth
Snake Pass is part puzzle game, part platformer which sees you as the player utilise a unique control scheme to wind your way through 15 levels collecting keys, coins, and orbs in order to progress.
Controlling Noodle the snake is a little bit like driving a car. One button makes him move forward, though when on the ground you’ll need to slither from side to side with the left analogue stick to get up any kind of speed, lest Noodle grinds to a halt. The A button lifts Noodle’s head up, allowing him to wrap himself around, and thus climb, the various bamboo poles that litter the games levels.
Finally there’s a grip button on the left trigger, allowing you to hang on for dear life should you find yourself perilously close to plummeting into a spike pit, or getting a tighter grip on a pole you wish to climb.
You can also enlist the help of Noodle’s hummingbird buddy Doodle to lift your tail up, helping you to reposition your weight if you’ve not quite got enough purchase on a pole.
Steady as you go
It can sound a pretty daunting system, but the game does an excellent job of easing you into the physics involved, allowing you to get to grips with the controls pretty quickly. It’s a lot of fun manoeuvring Noodle, who’s a charming little bugger, and I occasionally found myself taking a more difficult route purely for the enjoyment of traversal.
Once you’re through the first handful of levels though, the game has no hesitation in throwing more complex structures at you, with moving parts, windy sections, and underwater segments. One wrong move will see Noodle hit the ground and have to start his ascent again or, more commonly as the game goes on, fall to his death, get toasted on hot coals, or turned into a nicely skewered snake kebab courtesy of a spike pit.
Whilst the game’s four worlds are pretty distinct from each other in terms of aesthetic, there’s not a great deal differentiating the levels within a world. They’re all bright and colourful and well constructed, but a couple of times I found myself wondering if an area I wanted to return to in order to hunt for another collectible was actually on the level I was currently playing, or the one I’d just finished.
The main collectable is the three key stones you’ll need to finish the level, and by and large they’re pretty easy to come across. The real challenge is in collecting the 25 weird, blue, orb things (no idea), and the 5 gold coins in each level, the latter of which are in some real dastardly locations. Even after finishing the game, I found myself eagerly returning to hunt down the ones I’d missed first time through.
There’s no incentive to actually track these things down, bar the enjoyment from doing so. In fact there’s bugger all plot whatsoever here, bar a vague ‘someone’s nabbed the keystones, we’ve gotta track them down’.
I perhaps would’ve liked a little more reason for why I was doing what I was doing, and some form of reward for hunting down the coins – bonus levels perhaps, or even a selection of snazzy hats for Noodle to sport, would’ve made the endeavour a little bit more worthwhile.
The only other problem with Snake Pass is the game’s camera. By and large it’s fine, but when Noodle is slithering his way through more compact areas, it can be incredibly difficult to get a good angle on the action in order to accurately judge your next move.
It also pans a little on the slow side which can be a problem if you need to move quickly to avoid dying. Likewise, the omission of a first person perspective to have a look around the level in a bid to spot somewhere that might be hiding one of those gold coins is a bit of a drag.
All in all though, these are relatively minor gripes, and I had a lot of fun slithering through Snakepass. I’ll definitely be returning to it to ensure I snag every collectable, such is the joy of the game’s core control mechanic. It’s a brilliantly unique take on the 3D platformer, and for £16/$20 there’s a lot of fun to be had. I’d definitely recommend it.
Pros & Cons
+ Innovative gameplay
+ Variety of challenges
+ Great soundtrack
- Little variety in levels within worlds
- Occasionally frustrating camera