Snake Pass is unlike anything you’ve played before. At its heart, it’s a traditional platformer. Collect gems, beat levels, move on to next world. But where it would normally be passe, Snake Pass becomes something unique and challenging. As the snake Noodle, with the help of your friend Doodle the hummingbird, you’ll uncover what’s messing with the world and ultimately save it. It’s not exactly Shakespeare, but what makes Snake Pass unique and worth playing is one simple thing: its controls. This is our Snake Pass review.
Snake Pass is billed as a platformer, but you have no jump button here. You’re a snake, you have no legs. To get to heights normally reserved for those with more upward mobility, you’ll have to act and think like a snake. You’re long, you can climb by wrapping yourself around things that others can’t. But some obstacles, normally easily pushed or pulled by those with hands and feet, you must find another way to engage. That’s the brilliance of Snake Pass. Every bit of the game’s dozen-plus levels take that idea and run with it.
Snake Pass can be a bit of a “one trick pony” though, due to the inherent limitations of its design. It’s amazing that Sumo Digital’s game keeps its momentum across its four worlds and 15 levels, given how stale the idea could become if the design and puzzles weren’t both genius and challenging.
The problem is, at times Snake Pass expects too much from you too soon. You’re learning an entirely new way to play a game, to control a character, and some mid-game levels have very difficult maneuvers that need to be pulled off. But with time and patience, this difficulty gives way to knowledge and muscle memory. Suddenly you’re a master of moving Noddle around, knowing when to use Doodle to help carry your tale, and before you know it the game is over and you’re left wishing there were more levels.
The camera can often get in the way with Snake Pass, though and some frustration comes from that very bothersome age old 3D platformer issue. Maneuvering the camera manually becomes a pain especially since you’re busy managing the controls and trying to keep Noodle from falling off a poll or some other height.
There’s pure gaming joy to be had here, when you successfully pull off a move you’ve been trying to do or climb to a vista you’ve been trying to reach. Though 15 levels may not seem like a lot, the collections and getting 100% on the game will give you goals to strive for after you’ve successfully finished the game. There are no enemies to defeat here, no bosses to destroy – just you against your own limitations as a snake. Snake Pass is beautiful game, even on the Switch, with a fantastically thematic and ambient soundtrack to boot. It’s worth the $20 price of admission, and here’s hoping Sumo has inklings for more adventures to come.