Snake Pass review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Switch
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Sumo Digital
Developer: Sumo Digital
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Mark it down now, 2017 is the year the platformer genre returned to its former glory. Snake Pass is here to kick off the revitalization of the genre… for better or worse. A brand new IP from Sumo Digital which is quite refreshing, not just in being a new property but also in how the game plays. You control a snake (Noodle) with physics and movement mechanics that are something that haven’t been done before. Based off all of these attributes it seemed like Snake Pass could be a potential home run, but don’t round the bases just yet.

I wouldn’t call Snake Pass a straight up platformer like Mario or Banjo Kazooie, but more of a puzzle platformer. Your goal throughout each level is to collect three different colored gem stones then proceed to the end of the stage. Collecting these gems can require doing many different things. From swimming, climbing bamboo chutes, pulling levers and more, there’s a decent variety of ways these gems are scattered. Each stage also hides gold coins (which are the most hidden collectible) and blue orbs (which are the most frequent and easiest to find). So there’s a good amount of items to collect in Snake Pass, the problem is that these items don’t unlock anything, so I didn’t have much of a desire to track any of them down, outside of the gems required to complete each level.

Up until this point everything seems like a by the numbers platformer, but then there’s how Noodle controls. You see, in order for Noodle to gain speed and momentum you must slither in a zig zag pattern (like a real snake). Holding the right trigger to move then using the analog stick to control your direction. You also have a button dedicated to lifting your head, which assists in climbing objects and the left trigger is used to hold tightly onto things. That’s really it as far as controls, and while that might not sound too bad, it does have a learning curve to break out of how your brain expects a platformer to play. The controls are true to how a snake would act but also to a fault. It becomes increasingly frustrating wrapping around ledges and trees and juggling the camera while you’re trying to maneuver.

Having said all that, I’m still really happy Snake Pass was made. In this day and age of remakes and annual releases, it’s refreshing to see a brand new IP that happens to be a platformer. The frustration of the controls coupled with the camera just broke down my enjoyment and the lack of real replay value hurt my logic to push through the frustration. I should also mention the musical score is fantastic and feels ripped right out of a Donkey Kong Country game (which makes sense since it’s the same composer). Overall I think Snake Pass is worth checking out but curb your expectations a bit. I’m sure if it sells well, Snake Pass 2 will correct my problems with this first entry and slither its way to a better grade.

Grade: C+