A Surprisingly Fun Experience
From indie developer Sumo Digital comes Snake Pass, a physics-based puzzle platformer that offers some of the most unique physics mechanics I have ever experienced in a video game. Slithering along using an intuitive control scheme, mixed with the game’s unique physics, creates a very satisfying gameplay experience as you maneuver your way through tough and challenging obstacles (like a real snake would!). You also get to do this in a world filled with a bright and vibrant color pallet, along with a soundtrack composed by the guys who brought us the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack. However, this comes with some flaws, as you are in a constant battle with the game’s camera and annoying checkpoint system, but as I played more and more, I became accustomed to it all, becoming better at moving like a real snake, and even thinking like one, as I was making my way through the more difficult obstacles, gaining a fun sense of satisfaction.
The thought of controlling a snake, mixed with physics and platforming seems intriguing. You use the right trigger to move, another button to lift your head to lift yourself over obstacles and the left analogue stick to control Noodle the Snake. It seems like a simple control scheme, but the brilliance is when it’s used with the game’s physics, allowing you to move around like a real snake, coiling around poles and maneuvering around bamboo structures, giving you a lot of freedom to traverse across obstacles at your own free will, whether that’s going slow or fast.
The physics are fun to play around with. A lot of the time I would find myself just coiling around unnecessary bamboo structures. You also have a strong incentive to tackle some of the harder obstacles just for the challenge; even if you gain little reward at the end, it’s mainly for the satisfaction of overcoming a difficult obstacle, and knowing you are becoming better.
In this game, you constantly need to move like a real snake. On flat surfaces you have to slither left and right, as moving in a straight line renders you unable to move. You also need to make as much body contact with obstacles as you can to sustain a firm grip and not fall off. Obstacles become gradually more difficult, and at a nicely balanced pace throughout the game’s 15 level campaign. You will really need to learn to move like a snake, as some of the more difficult obstacles will really test your patience. Some of these obstacles, mainly the moving ones, can be quite daunting, as the slightest screw up in your movement can cause you to lose your grip and fall to your death
Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that you are in a constant battle with the game’s camera, as it moves very slowly, and often gets stuck in awkward angles making it difficult to judge an obstacle’s position. The camera can also become obnoxiously stuck behind objects. This is usually the cause of your death, and will often get you frustrated. Especially with the game’s checkpoint system that locks in all your collectibles prior to finding a checkpoint, and with checkpoints so far from each other, trying to grab some of the harder to reach collectibles comes off as too much of a risk, and often shies you away.
Snake Pass looks great on all platforms, even if it is graphically better on PC and the PS4 Pro, running at 1080p, 60 frames per second, with more lighting effects. But the game is fine at 30 frames per second on the Nintendo Switch, as it doesn’t require a higher frame rate to benefit gameplay.
Snake Pass is a challenging, fun, and satisfying physics puzzler and has some of the most unique mechanics I have ever experienced in a video game. It even had me coming back for more, replaying levels in the time trial mode, or trying to acquire all the collectibles. The camera and checkpoint system may hold the game back, but the gameplay and presentation is easily enough justice to let it slide.