Satissssssfying (Once you get the hang of it!)
In a market swamped by platformers that don’t take too many creative liberties with the formula, it’s always nice to discover a title that tries something new. Snake Pass has the presentation of a classic Rare title from the late 90’s and even has a soundtrack composed by David Wise (known for composing the tunes for the Donkey Kong Country series) to boot. It’s a treat for the eyes and ears with its lush environments and lively tunes that goes back to a time and place when creativity in games was king. The sights and sounds are where the similarities to the likes of Banjo Kazooie and Super Mario 64 end, however.
Not So Familiar Territory
While it may look like a top tier 3D platformer, Snake Pass plays more like a physics based puzzle game. Sure, the player is tasked with collecting three key objects (with 5 bonus coins and blue orbs on the side), but the real focus is learning to control the slithery protagonist (named Noodle). Since you’re not an Italian Plumber or versatile gorilla, you’ll have to make do with slithering around and coiling yourself around objects in the environment to make progress. There’s a button for moving forward, one for tilting Noodle’s head upwards, one for tightening Noodle’s grip on the environment, and one that allows Noodle’s bird pal to pick up his tail end and potentially save him from plummeting down a bottomless pit or bed of spikes.
Don’t expect this to be a game you can immediately pick up and play. Getting the hang of being a snake will take time. For me, it took about 45 minutes to an hour of playing to catch on to the business of slithering and coiling. While it may leave a confusing and (most likely) frustrating first impression, the game becomes a lot of fun once you get used to it. Figuring out how to get that coin in a place that seems impossible to reach at first glance can be a really satisfying experiences, along with scouring every nook and cranny for collectibles.
A Familiar Problem
Aside from the steep learning curve, one other issue Snake Pass suffers from is the same flaw apparent in the standard 3D platformer- an occasionally wonky camera. It isn’t an issue in the first set of the game’s 15 levels, but it does make some of the game’s later challenges more difficult than they needed to be. Trying to gauge where Noodle is in relation to the next pole or ledge is can be tricky when the camera isn’t working in your favor.
Still Worth A Look
If you’re willing to learn the game’s mechanics, Snake Pass can prove to be a rewarding experience that offers quite a bit of replay value thanks to the abundance of collectibles and Time Trials once you clear a set of stages. It’s a shame that there aren’t any playable demos that I’m aware of, as this is definitely one of those titles that falls under the “acquired taste” category. Your best bet is to wait for a sale on this one, taking into consideration that you’ll likely either love the spin Snake Pass takes on a familiar genre or grow frustrated and shelve it within the first hour of gameplay.
Also on PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch