Snake Pass Reviews

Official Site Review

By Megan Walton, 2 years ago
There's something about animal protagonists that makes a game instantly appealing. Snakes haven't made that much of an appearance since the days of the Nokia 3310 when everyone was playing the game Snake on their phones. Many, many years later, we have another game with a snake at the helm. Snake Pass is one of many platform puzzler type games that we seem to have in abundance at the minute, but does it manage to stand out from the rest?

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The game's story is not substantial but there is one nonetheless. Doodle, a small, brightly coloured hummingbird, is rushing around a level looking for Noodle, a snake with beautiful orange, black and yellow markings. Noodle is eventually found fast asleep on a small bamboo style pole, but he is abruptly awoken by Doodle and the news that the gate is broken, and that they'll be trapped forever if they don't fix it. Your job as Noodle, in this opening level and all of the subsequent levels, is to fix the gates. This is done by collecting the missing keystones and bringing them back to the gate, which will open once you find all three (you only have to find one in the first level, as this acts as a sort of tutorial), and take you to the next level to do the same thing all over again. This may sound a bit tedious, but the levels are different enough to keep things interesting.

Getting to grips with controlling a snake is a little harder than you might think. When you begin the game, you need to learn only the most basic of movements and the game does a good job of guiding you through what you need to know on the opening level. These simple movements include making Noodle slither forward, moving him from side to side in order to pick up some speed and lifting his head up in order to gain some height. Pretty soon after, though, you'll have to master some new tricks, including wrapping around poles in order to climb higher, tightening Noodle's body for better grip and also mastering a bit of swimming. It may take a little time to get used to the controls, but after a few levels you should be well into the groove. It's a unique game and learning how to get Noodle around the level will come from practice.

Can snakes swim in real life? We ask the real questions hereCan snakes swim in real life? We ask the real questions here

Doodle the hummingbird is not just there as a simple sidekick as he can also give you a hand and help you learn some new tricks. As well as often sitting on the object you need to travel up/over/around next, Doodle can lift up your tail with the click of a button, allowing you to manouvre past some awkward obstacles, or save you from a deadly fall. Later on in the game, Doodle's flying becomes even more of a help as he can actually carry you over certain large gaps. This can only be used in certain places, though, and the game makes it very obvious where, even to the point of having a button prompt. These various abilities are taught to you gradually when you will need them in the levels, so the game does a good job of never overwhelming you with too much information at once.

The puzzle and platforming elements of the game combine as you figure out how to get Noodle past various objects. The levels are quite short but each one will take you a fair amount of time to complete. There's a multitude of obstacles in each level and while there are no enemies to kill you, the risk of death is still pretty high. The three keystones you need to collect, as well as the collectible wisps and coins, will often be in hard to reach and awkward places, sometimes sticking out over an edge or above some spikes. All you need to actually progress through the level is the three keystones, so the levels can be replayed for the wisps and coins at any time and the level selection (and a certain skill unlocked at the end of the game) makes the process easier.

You'll never forget the look on Noodle's face if you let him fallYou'll never forget the look on Noodle's face if you let him fall

Figuring out how much of Noodle you can hang over a ledge or a branch before the weight off his body will cause him to fall off will be your main issue. Deciding how many times you must wrap him round a pole to keep him secure as you climb up is another. You need to look at it as a physics-based game in a way. The trick is knowing when to take the risk and stretch your neck out for one more collectible, or when to call it a day and head for the checkpoint — your collection progress is only saved when you hit a checkpoint and there isn't a huge amount of these in each level. There are only 15 levels on offer here but the game makes up for it by an unlockable time trial mode. This allows you to pit your speed against others across the world on a leaderboard, to see how fast you can complete each level. It's a nice addition that means there's extra replayability for the game, and a target time means you have an aim for your timed run, too.

Sumo Digital has given Noodle a personality, even though he never says a word, which helps both him and the levels feel more alive. The look on his face as you see him fall to his death will definitely make you feel guilty; he also cheers with delight when he collects something, and gulps if he thinks he's about to fall off. This likeable personality, along with his facial expressions, helps to draw you into the game even more and makes you even more eager to help Noodle reach his goal.

Some of coins will require taking a bit of a risk in order to reach themSome of coins will require taking a bit of a risk in order to reach them

The game also looks and feels bright, energetic and fun from the get go. The levels are hugely colourful and there's always something to admire. Whether it's the blue tranquility of the water in which Noodle swims, or the simple green softness of the grass, everything feels like it was made with care. Unfortunately, as you are trying to admire these levels and steer Noodle through them, the camera doesn't always want to comply. The camera caused Noodle to fall to his death a few times. Sometimes the camera also wasn't pointing in the direction of travel so it was a struggle to get out. This is a minor issue for the game as a whole, but never the less it does cause one or two annoying moments.

In terms of achievements, there are 33 on offer here and there's a nice variety in what you'll have to do in order to earn them. Completing each set of levels will earn you an achievement, as will collecting all of the wisps in each of the sets. You'll be replaying a few levels to complete them in certain ways, such as not touching the water or having Doodle carry your tail the whole time. The specific requirements for a couple of the achievements seem like they might be a bit vague, such as getting two keystones without touching the floor in one specific level. Overall, it's a solid but doable list that will require a bit of hard work, especially when completing all the levels without dying.

Summary

Snake Pass is a real gem in the ID@Xbox program and you can almost sense this as soon as you start up the game. The bright colours and upbeat jungle soundtrack jump right out at you and Noodle feels like such a likeable character, without him ever saying a word. The levels are short but substantial — they feel really well designed, with a good amount of obstacles and collectibles that don't feel overwhelming. Your time with Noodle and Doodle might be a bit short, and some of the camera angles will really have you struggling, but overall it's a fun and exciting experience that you shouldn't misssssssss.
4.5 / 5
Snake Pass
Positives
  • Unique puzzle game based around the physics controlling Noodle
  • Beautifully designed levels that are bright and welcoming
  • Noodle is loveable and the game gives him a personality
Negatives
  • Camera placement is awkward at times
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 10 hours controlling Noodle, collecting wisps, coins and gate keys, and making him fall to his death one too many times. This unlocked 26 of the game's 33 achievements along the way. An Xbox One download code was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
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