Yooka-Laylee wasn’t the only charming and colorful game featuring a reptile and a flying animal as protagonists to come out this April. Here’s Snake Pass.
Don’t be fooled by its looks and presentation. While Snake Pass looks like a Rare-ish platformer, sounds like a Rare-ish platformer (David Wise is the composer of the pretty good soundtrack, by the way) and has the charm of a Rare-ish platformer, the game is more of a 3D puzzle than anything else. Yes, you do traverse platform-ish levels and have to collect items in order to proceed, but given the nature of the gameplay, its difficulty level and linearity, you’ll easily see it’s more of a puzzle than a new Banjo. Then again, that is not a bad thing, at all. This is one of the most innovative games I’ve seen in years, and can’t think of anything that plays like it.
If anything, I have to give major credits to the developers for how creative and unique Snake Pass‘ gameplay is. Not a single game out there recreates the feeling and the hardships of moving a snake around like this one does.
In order to make the titular vegetarian character (adorably named Noodle) move, you don’t simple tilt the control stick forward and call it a day. There is a button that makes you slither around (think of it as an “accelerate” button). You also need to constantly move left and right, just like a snake. There is also a button which makes you tilt your head up, easing up the climbing process, as well as a button which makes you grip harder to surfaces, which helps when climbing more difficult surfaces. It is surely a very inventive mechanic, but there’s also a problem with it, the fact you need to constantly press 3 or 4 of these buttons at all times in order to climb a place, while struggling with the game’s camera, which has a mind of its own. In simpler words, the gameplay is the best and worst aspect of Snake Pass.
That leads to another gripe I had with Snake Pass: its difficulty curve.
The first world serves more as a tutorial of sorts and it’s pretty simple to complete. All collectibles are easily locatable and there is little harm thrown at you. All of the sudden, once you complete the first world, the difficulty curve takes a gigantic steep direction uphill and the game gets incredibly challenging. I’m all for a good challenge in a game, but Snake Pass gets too difficult too quickly. You also have to remember that, by the time you reach those levels, you aren’t still fully acquainted to the controls, and you’re still battling against the camera for supremacy.
Granted, you don’t need to fully collect every single item on a level in order to proceed, and the game lets you revisit any previous level as many times as you like, letting you get acquainted with the level of challenged imposed at you in order to return for completionism’s sake.
All issues aside, Snake Pass is an interesting gaming concept and a fun experience in short bursts, especially when you finally get used to its unique but complex control mechanics. It also features very charming visuals (albeit with some framerate drops) and a nice soundtrack to top it off.
While far from being a true Rare-ish 3D platformer, like many are saying, I can’t help but feel a warm fuzzy burst of nostalgia whenever I play it. You just can’t say no to such charismatic characters.
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC