Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Snake Pass
There’ve been many variants of the 3D Platformer over the years; things got off to an exceptional start thanks to Super Mario 64, Playstation came on board with Crash Bandicoot while others hopped onto the bandwagon as time progressed. Over what has been approximately the last decade however, we’ve come to see fewer and fewer 3D Platformers, with the iconic characters like Mario and Ratchet remaining prominent while the middle and bottom tiers dropped away. Recently a resurgence has begun, Yooka-Laylee has landed, A Hat in Time isn’t far off and Snake Pass has dropped. A very different take on 3D platforming, Snake Pass creates joy from the smallest movements and the most subtle of choices and in doing so produces one of the most endearing platformers I’ve played in many years.
We’ve become quite accustomed to assuming the role of a bipedal character, every now and then that creature may possess four legs, but never have we been legless. As the name of the game may suggest you’re a snake, an adorable one named Noodle, and you, along with your hummingbird buddy Doodle collect crystal keystones, gatekeeper coins and wisps all on your way through each of Snake Pass’ 15 self-contained levels. There’s no real narrative thread to speak of, which allows the game to stand on its own *proverbial* two legs, placing the gameplay front and centre.
It will likely take some time to adjust to Snake Pass. We’re all too familiar with movement in platformers but with a lack of legs at your disposal, slithering around requires some nuance and possesses a bit of a learning curve. Pointing in one direction won’t cut it if you wish to traverse each level in good time, no, you’ll need to slither, just as a snake might from side to side to gather the momentum you require; breaking established gaming habits in this might take some time. Noodle can reach up and hook itself around low hanging branches or objects to add some verticality to the mix, anything that you cannot quite reach doing this might be accessible with a bit of help from Doodle who can lift your back end and carry you somewhat extending your reach. There’s certainly a learning curve here but once you can adapt to the way you would expect a snake to move then there’s a lot of fun to be had… after you’ve overcome that frustration hurdle.
You’ll not have to contend with enemies throughout your time in Snake Pass unless you consider ravines, spikes and other dangerous environmental hazards as things that fall under that umbrella. You’ll want to adapt to Snake Pass’ gameplay fairly quickly because it’s not long before these obstacles are presented to you and your frustration levels begin to rise. As you become more familiar with the games inner workings though the satisfaction you begin to derive from it rapidly grows. Soon you’ll know exactly what you can hang on to, when you should tighten your grip, and when you can safely release – it’s incredibly rewarding to look back upon a puzzle you’ve navigated with not an arm nor a leg to help you.
It’s not always smooth slithering, Doodle is sometimes unresponsive when it comes to scooping your back end up, which can lead to some unfortunate deaths while the camera will at times present you with a very difficult angle to manipulate yourself in. The camera can be manually adjusted but when you add this to already complicated controls, it won’t be long before you find yourself in a bit of a knot.
Snake Pass is a beautiful game with some wonderfully detailed environments. Both Noodle and Doodle themselves are striking in their design, leaping off the screen thanks to the gorgeous use of colour, while the music that accompanies you in your adventure is also masterfully designed. Each tune matches its habitat, and each has a calming effect upon the player. It was only the music that had prevented me from launching my controller into the stratosphere on a couple of occasions due to the difficulty of certain level components.
Despite having a vastly different control scheme to most video games, Snake Pass is a very accessible game for anyone of any age. The bright, lively word and cast of characters in it makes the game an instantly attractive option, but with some really impressive mechanics, and a wonderful sense of atmosphere and fun, what you’re getting from your purchase is an immensely satisfying experience. There are some rougher edges, but I already see a very promising future ahead of Noodle and am incredibly interested to see where his adventures may take him next.