If you’ve been reading GSRR for a while, you might have stumbled upon my post earlier this year about the resurgence of the platforming genre and the plethora of titles that we’ll hopefully have experienced by the end of the year. As I was finalizing the post and readying it for publishing I had an email introducing me to title that looked bright and colourful and much like Yooka Laylee, reminiscent of the old N64 classic platform games. Before I hit publish I delved more into this title. Snake Pass is Sumo Digital’s first foray into self-publishing. They worked with some of the industries biggest names such as Sega, Sony & Microsoft and equally have worked on some of their largest franchises such as Outrun, Virtua Tennis and Little Big Planet. So the pedigree of their skill is apparent.
Their history and experience is evident as soon as you start the game. The colourful and gorgeous visuals as you take control of Noodle for the first time are breathtaking. The soundtrack composed by the legendary David Wise is amazing and fits perfectly with the style and visuals of this game. It’s when you first begin your movements with Noodle that you get the true scale of just what exactly Sumo Digital have created.
Playing Snake Pass for the first time is what I imagine it must feel like for anybody who play’s any type of computer game for the first time. To feel like I’m new to playing computer games purely down to the clever and innovative control mechanics in this game is mind blowing. It’s 2017 and I consider myself to be a large video game fan, but to feel like I’ve just taken my first step into gaming due to getting to grips with this control scheme is surreal and impressive. The controls are truly innovative compared to standard controls. That said I don’t quite know where they would fit in any other game, they’re very much suited for controlling a snake. But it’s still it’s a very impressive feat. Once you begin to get the mechanics and can slide, climb and grip you feel a great sense of accomplishment, especially when you put these practices together and attain those hard to reach collectibles hidden in these small but vibrant levels.
This is where Snake Pass will I presume differ from the other platform games due to release this year (I assume, I have yet to play them). Rather than running through checkpoints and jumping to collect objects you’ll be slithering your way through the levels at a much slower pace. You have a forward momentum from holding down the right trigger or bumper, you’re actual movement is compromised from wiggling the left analogue stick left and right in a slithering ‘snakelike’ motion. You must then combine the forward movement with upward climbing by pressing X and gripping and releasing the grip as appropriate by pressing the left trigger or bumper. It is quite the skill to master, and you might not ever truly master it. But this will be how you tackle the various puzzles that are in each level across the 4 worlds. How you tackle the levels is up to you. You can and should intricately approach each part of bamboo to climb higher and higher, making your way across gaps. But if you can gain enough momentum from one platform, you could push your luck, jump and hope to make the other platform. Not the ideal approach, but if it gets results.
I have however become frustrated with the game on numerous occasions too. The checkpoint system can be pretty infuriating. You might collect multiple wisps and coins before the next checkpoint, only to accidentally fall from an area and die. When you restart you’ll end up back at the checkpoint to have to collect all those items again. If the wisps or coins you collected stayed collected it’d be less annoying. And when you’re halfway through a level and reach a point where you die on multiple occasions, you might tend to want to turn off the game, take a break, reassert yourself and come back to it later, with this checkpoint system you won’t be able to come back to the point of the level you left it, you have to start the level again from the beginning including collecting the wisps and coins again.
The other rage inducing component I found was the camera. The controls are already very intricate and challenging to master, but to have to swing the camera view around using the right analogue stick while your hands are already on the verge of cramping due to unique grip and movement you’ve got on the controller it can increase the inner rage you might have been building up if you’re struggle to get to grips with the movement mechanics.
I found that Snake Pass is a game that I needed to play in small doses, but the game itself is not very large anyway. There are 4 worlds with 4 levels per world. There are plenty of collectibles on each level which if you’re a completionist will keep you going for a long time. Some of the collectibles are for lack of a better word to use here, savage to collect. Once completing 4 levels of the world even without all the collectibles you unlock a speed run mode for the levels. So again plenty to keep you going and demonstrating really good value for money, especially at the price the game is. I did say to myself once completed I’ll go back and attempt to get all the collectibles for every level, I swiftly changed my mind on that though as I progressed further through the game. Right now I’ll be happy with just completing the game.
Snake Pass is a very charming and nostalgic throwback to the great platform genre of old, like the heavyweights back on the N64. However the twist which differentiates it from the renaissance of the platform genre this generation are the unique controls. It’s a game that can be played in short bursts which is probably more so recommended as the level difficulty increases and the combination of the control mechanics really test you. If you are one with zen then equally you could sit and play through the whole game in one sitting. I’d commend anyone who could do that as the level difficulty increases though. The visuals are simply beautiful, the soundtrack as to be expected with David Wise composing is catchy and fits perfectly with the world and with the numerous collectibles and ability to speed run levels later on, it’s incredibly good value for money. You can get a lot of gaming time here. A solid (in more ways than one) yet sometimes frustrating debut for Noodle & Doodle.