For those of you who have already played Snake Pass, the new indie game from Sumo Digital, you may have let out an audible “duh” when you read the title. For those of you who haven’t, you probably haven’t heard of Snake Pass yet and need to know. So let’s start with that.
Snake Pass is a new platformer released today for Switch, XBox One, PS4, and PC. It takes a lot of inspiration from classic Rare titles like Banjo-Kazooie, even recruiting former Rare composer David Wise to score the game. Besides the music and art, its most Rare-like feature is its emphasis on collecting. There are three types of collectibles on each level, only one of which is required to advance to the next.
That’s about as much as Snake Pass has in common with Rare games, or any other games for that matter.
What makes it stand out is its controls. The motto of this game is “Think Like a Snake!” That means that you literally have to move through the game exactly as a snake would, which is not easy to grasp. I started out going straight forward as anyone would do in any platformer, only to find out that Noodle (the snake) moves very slowly. How do I make him go fast? By making him move in an S-shaped pattern of course, just like a real snake! That part was easy to get. What wasn’t easy to get was climbing.
Throughout each course is a set of obstacles that only a snake could make it through, including many jungle gym-like bars that Noodle has to wrap himself around and squeeze if he doesn’t want to fall off like….. well, a wet noodle. While he’s clinging on, you have to get him through the obstacles to the other side. This requires constantly re-wrapping and re-squeezing to the end (wrapping and squeezing are two different mechanics that you have to use at the same time).
So you can see what I’m saying here. The control scheme is very difficult. But is it worth it?
I’d say yes. In fact, the controls make it even more worthwhile. It took almost an hour for me to get one coin hanging on bars under the first level, but once I did it felt rewarding. Instead of feeling like I wasted my time, I felt like I improved as a gamer. This game forces you to think in a way that makes the controls themselves part of the puzzle (also, it makes you think like a snake).
For $20, it’s worth a shot. Get slithering! (and prepare for some cheesy puns in the game)