I grew up in a time when character platform games were a dime a dozen. There was always some new anthropomorphic animal with an attitude solving puzzles and jumping on enemies heads. That trend has died out in recent years, the platformer has all but disappeared, but in 2017 the genre seems to be making a comeback. Snake Pass is the first game out of the gate and it does a nice job of setting the tone. This is a puzzle game first and foremost, with a unique twist on movement and style.
On the surface Snake Pass looks like it was ripped right out of the 90s. The player character Noodle always has a bright expression on his face, and the worlds are full of color. I adore the look of the game; it reminds me of a cartoon. It is telling that players can change the expression on Noodle’s face by pressing up and down on the d-pad. It is also cute as heck.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Switch, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Each level tasks players with one main goal: finding three keys to unlock the gate to the next level. There is of course more. Each level has 20 wisps and five coins to collect, which will make people who feel the need to 100% each level smile with glee. Of course, it is not a simple matter of finding them. The three keys are usually pretty simple, but finding all the coins and wisps will pose a true challenge.
The concept of Snake Pass is about collection, but the puzzle comes in the form of Noodle’s movement. At first I found it frustrating. This is not how a platformer should play, but as I continued to play, I got the nuance. It was brilliant, and it made the collecting aspect really stand out.
As one would imagine, controlling a snake is a little different than any other character. Instead it almost feels like a physics-based racing game. Pulling the right trigger puts Noodle in motion, then players can angle him left and right to perform a slither motion, thus increasing his speed. Pressing the A button will lift his head, while pulling the left trigger will increase his grip onto objects. The idea is to wriggle and move up, down, and around the environment to collect the pieces. It is different, but really well done, and once I got the hang of it, I became addicted.
Each level becomes progressively harder in its collectible placement. I spent upwards of 45 minutes in some levels trying to get 100%, and loved it. The challenge ramps up nicely, and getting everything takes both practice and patience.
Each world in the game also comes with a theme, and they integrate into the puzzles. For example there is a water themed level where Noodle will have to submerge himself, as well as an air world where he will rely more on his sidekick hummingbird Doodle, yes this is as whimsical as it gets.
While the visuals are outstanding, the real star of the presentation is the music, composed by David Wise, who spent the majority of his career crafting soundtracks for the infamous developer Rare. Those common themes hold true here, as the music in this game would feel right at home in one of their classic SNES or N64 titles. Yes, it is that good.
Snake Pass is a unique experience and a throwback to classic puzzle/platform games of yesteryear. It is a genre lost in time, and I am thrilled to be seeing a resurgence this year. For the price it is hard not to recommend Snake Pass. It is unique, fun, colorful, and challenging. Definitely worth checking out, even in this blizzard of awesome games hitting already in 2017.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.