I do love me a colourful game. It’s something I kind of resent about modern gaming; the need for everything to be dark, grey, gritty, and even more dark. I miss the games where I knew I was going to be slapped in the eyes with primary colours and cheerful characters. Looks like this year is the year for me, then, as not only do we have Yooka-Laylee coming up (review soon!) we’ve also got Snake Pass to delve into. So is it a slippery shite, or does it passssssss with flying colours? Yep, I’m making a pathetic snake pun. Read on for the full review and bask in my glorious puns!
Snake Pass is a bit of an oddity. It’s a platformer. We all know what a platformer is, don’t we? Typically they involve lots of jumping, running, smashing, and so on. Snake Pass doesn’t. Snake Pass is super chilled. Snake Pass, I suspect, was conceived during a few bong sessions. See, unlike other platformers where your hero does hero stuff and looks all heroic, Snake Pass gives us a mute snake who seems to be a little lazy. Noodle, the snake you play as, is first introduced to us while he’s having a little nap. As a father of a baby child, I can appreciate nap time. I love nap time. Still, weird character trait for a hero, don’t you think?
It’s probably best not to dwell too much on my musings over Noodle and his apparent lack of motivation. All being said, he’s a serviceable dude that gets the job done. But his job is fairly easy, so… Well, yeah. Like I said, Snake Pass does away with the normal conventions of a platformer and does its own thing. And that’s good. Very good.
The premise is simple: collect the missing gems from each world to continue onto the next. Easy squeezy. There’s also a few collectibles to gather in each level, though they’re optional, I still found myself obsessively hunting them. This is what Ubisoft has been training me to do for the last decade, so it feels wrong to leave a collectible by the wayside…
Now, here’s the kicker. Noodle, like white men, can’t jump. [I understand this is a fairly obscure reference, but I’m leaving it in. If you got it: yay! If not then you’re probably still in school. Study!] No, Noodle can only slither his way around the game’s numerous levels. This is actually pretty damn cool. Much like Octodad and its dodgy controls, Snake Pass demands that you forfeit absolute precision in favour of having a bit of a giggle, though not to the extreme lengths of Octodad.
Becoming one with the snake is not actually all that challenging, or at least not after the initial “whoa, what’s going on here, then?” moment when you’re given control of the serpent. Movement is fairly easy: you hold down R2 to move forward and you move the left stick to turn in the direction you wish to go. If you want to go over something, you hold the cross button. Simple enough, though there’s a surprising depth to the controls that needs to explored if you’re to find and collect every collectible in the game. You’ll need to master the gripping of bamboo vines as well as remember to wiggle left-to-right to keep up your speed. Yes, much like a real life snake, you need to slither to keep going forward. Physics, yo!
Like I said, initially it’s all a bit overwhelming but the game does a fine job at coaching you through the controls. Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, it’s just a matter of getting to where you need to go. There’s no great narrative of deception, lies, and betrayal. There’s no cinematic sequences where you dangle off the edge of a cliff (though I did fall off the map a few times due to my clumsiness…) and there’s no dramatic conversations. You slither, you move, you climb, you collect, and then you move on. It’s simple but oh so sweet.
It helps, then, that the game’s a lovely thing to look at. The game’s worlds are wonderfully presented with a sea of bright colours and fine details. It’s not a photorealistic attempt to simulate the life of an other-worldly snake, so remember that when you’re looking at the cartoon-ish graphics. Noodle and his companion look great (your buddy will give you a lift when you get stuck) and the little touches in around the game’s levels make it a pure joy to slither around in, not to mention the funky soundtrack. I’m not really big on music but I did enjoy the chirpy tunes in Snake Pass. Obviously it’s not quite up there with The Killers, but it worked well enough that I found myself whistling the same tunes at work, much to the annoyance of my staff.
Like any game, Snake Pass has its problems. For one, it’s not that long. I managed to get through the campaign levels in around six hours, though you may be able to plough through it a little faster depending on whether you have a natural affinity with snakes. Then there’s the game’s camera which did account for a few meaningless deaths that resulted in me losing my precious collectibles. It doesn’t follow you automatically and sometimes – rarely – it’ll just completely bugger up and leave you clueless as to what’s going on, though these instances were fairly rare.
In all, I had a decent time with Snake Pass. Would I come back to it? Yeah, I think I might, actually, as I need to sweep up a few trophies and get my collectibles. And then maybe I’ll give the timed-mode a shot, though I don’t expect I’ll be holding any world record attempts anytime soon. It’s fun. It’s quirky. It’s probably going to piss you off at times, but isn’t that better than sitting through six hours of crappy TV drama masquerading as a video game?
Snake Pass PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.0/10
Snake Pass is a charming little game indeed. It takes the familiar collect-a-thon formula and turns it on its head with its fresh take on the genre. If you’re hankering for an old-school platformer with some light puzzles, slide right on in with Snake Pass.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
*Reviewed using a PS4 Slim.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)