Snake Pass is a physics-based puzzle game developed by the minds behind Little Big Planet 3 and Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed. It’s a new IP where players take control of Noodle the snake accompanied by his hummingbird friend, Doodle, and navigate through a plethora of levels with precarious ledges, bamboo shoots and switches in order to collect an assortment of coloured gems to rid Haven Tor from the Gate Crasher. A simple concept, but how well does it play?
Snake Pass is unlike any game that I’ve played before. It’s a unique idea and really deserves praise on the originality front. The main character of this simple-looking puzzle game is Noodle, a snake. Being a snake means moving like a snake, and snakes slither. What is immediately noticeable when you start Snake Path is the movement controls will feel alien and not at all what you’d expect.
For example, to move forward players are required to hold down the RZ button (or the equivalent button on other systems, I played Snake Pass on the Nintendo Switch) while simultaneously moving the left stick from left to right. This makes Noodle slither, much like a real snake would in real life. Continue this action to build up speed and to move around the map. Pressing the A button lifts Noodles head allowing him to ascend while holding the RZ button tightens his grip and makes him move at a slower pace. To avoid losing traction you can also press Y to have Doodle the Hummingbird pick up your tail.
The idea is to collect three coloured gems in each level in order to progress to the next, but these are placed in precarious locations which require both cunning and skill to reach. I found that I was forced to forget what I thought I knew about platformers and adopt a more reptilian way of thinking; after all, snakes can’t jump. Using Noodle’s body, players need to twist and curl around objects in order to manoeuvre up and down. I found this tricky to begin with, but after a few levels I felt myself warming to the control scheme and really enjoying the gameplay.
The levels have been well thought out and offer a number of challenges for players to tackle. The game offers four worlds, each with fifteen levels in each so it’s not a short game. Depending on how fast you progress through the levels will depend on how long the game will take to complete. If you’re a bit of a completionist like me and want to collect every last coin or glowing orb, then you’re probably looking around 8 hours of gameplay, maybe more.
There are no timers or immediate dangers in Snake Pass. Players are able to relax and take their time while looking for the perfect locations to traverse through each level. This is somewhat of a relief as some areas can be trickier than others to reach. That’s not to say that some section’s don’t require some haste to complete, but it’s well balanced and doesn’t make you feel like you’re forced to move faster than you feel comfortable in doing.
The level design is nice and bright, which matches both Noodle and Doodle who are equally full of emotion. The colours really pop and give the game an inviting tone which draws the player in. The cartoon style really brings Noodle to life and adds some realism to the character models. An oxymoron, I know, but it’s hard not to notice his wide smile and shifty glances or the residue water on his scales when he slides out of the water.
Though despite my praise, it doesn’t mean that Snake Pass is without its faults. Though admittedly, there are not many at all. While the control scheme is intuitive and matches the tone and pace of the game, it does make Snake Pass harder to just pick up and play. I found that passing the controller to a friend to give it a go wasn’t as fluid as say, Mario, for example. There’s a grace period where you’re required to get used to the handling and movements of Noodle. In addition to this, I did find it to be a bit repetitive at times.
With this being said, however, Snake Pass is still a solid puzzle game. There’s not much of a plot to the game but it doesn’t really need it. The characters are both charming and memorable and have instantly become some of my favourites. The laid back nature makes it the perfect candidate to play to unwind and I didn’t experience any slowdown issues in either docked or handheld mode.
Sumo Digital has worked hard to create a whole new universe and it’s clear that their hard work has paid off. If you’re a fan of puzzle games and want to try something different, Snake Pass is definitely worth trying.