Snake Pass was released by Sumo Digital at the end of March on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and, thankfully, Nintendo Switch. Sumo Digital Ltd. is responsible for helping with a lot of remarkable games, including Disney Infinity and Little Big Planet. However, Snake Pass is their first original IP, and it's all theirs.
While playing, or even seeing Snake Pass, you'll get the sense that this game is heavily inspired by the 3D Collection-based platformers of the past, pioneered by Rareware and recently revived by Playtonic. This is very true, as they even have some of the old Rareware talent on board. The famous composer David Wise has lent his talent to the Snake Pass soundtrack, and it really shows.
Snake Pass may be inspired by the past, but it innovates more than enough to set itself apart. Never before have I seen controls quite like those found in Snake Pass. After hours upon hours with the game, I still haven't mastered them. You don't move around like a person in an animal's body, you move like the animal you are...a snake. You are required to move back and forth to create momentum. You can tighten your muscles to grip onto things. Moving in a straight line is nearly impossible due, because you obviously have no legs.
From a visual standpoint, the game is pretty stunning. It utilizes a beautiful cartoon art style that really takes you back to the 90's Rareware era. The lighting effects are gorgeous in this game. The soft glow of the magical stones you must collect really shine, and the bright sun beaming off of Noodle's scales is a beautiful sight.
Snake Pass runs pretty well too. I've had no framedrops whatsoever. In both TV and handheld mode, it's as smooth as butter. There have been reports claiming otherwise, but I can't speak for those.
They've seemingly been patched out, but there were a few weird glitches at launch. For example, the rumble of the Joy-Con while in handheld mode was VERY intense, to the point where even while my system was muted, the sounds were bothersome to those around me.
As I mentioned before, David Wise, famous for his days at Rare, has provided the music for Snake Pass. Like most of his work, the music in this game is stellar. The tracks are fun, and they really fit the mood of the stages that they're for. The sound effects are good too. The screams Noodle lets out occasionally are always hilarious.
The thing that makes Snake Pass so unique is also what holds it back. That thing is, of course, the gameplay. The ways you have to wiggle back and forth are like no other control scheme I've ever seen. They do work if you're good enough, and I have to give them credit for that. However, these controls are nearly impossible to learn, and even when you feel like you've got them mastered, they fail. I think the proper word for the controls in Snake Pass would be "finicky".
While I'm not much of a fan of the controls, the other mechanics of the game are really fun. I always scour the stage looking for every collectible, and I'm often not even able to find them all. I also really admire the fact that there are no enemies in the game. When the controls work, that can make it a very relaxing game to play.
The collectibles are fun, but there's not really much to do after you collect them all. If you're good enough at the game, you could pretty easily complete it all within a few hours. After you know where everything is, and how to get to it, I can't imagine you'd want to play it again. For that reason, unfortunately, there's not much replay value at all.
The saddest part of Snake Pass is that I can see what they were going for. They wanted this game to be a relaxing experience where you think like a snake and collect things at your own pace. However, due to the often infuriating controls, being relaxed at all is pretty much impossible, especially for the more high-strung of us.
Overall, Snake Pass is far from being a bad game. It's exceptionally creative, and there are a lot of really great ideas. It looks and sounds nice, and occasionally it even plays nice. However, the ridiculously confusing controls will be a huge turn-off for a lot of people.
I really hate having to criticize this game so harshly. I can tell a lot of love went into it, and there are a ton of really good ideas that I hope to see executed better one day. It's one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch eShop, and yet...it's still deeply flawed.
- Graphics: 5/5 Stars
- Music/Sound: 5/5 Stars
- Gameplay: 2/5 Stars
- Replay Value: 1/5 Stars
- Usability: 2/5 Stars
- 3/5 Stars