Snake Pass PS4 Review

April 27, 2017 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Sumo Digital  Developer: Sumo Digital  Genre: Platformer  

Players: 1  Age Rating: 3+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Switch

Snake Pass has all the bits and pieces that constitutes a typical platformer: a cartoon animal, an inviting, vibrant world filled with platforms and collectables. One vital thing is missing, however – a jump button.

Noodle is a snake of the cartoon variety but isn’t blessed with the human-like proportions of the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, instead slithering along the ground, much like a real snake does and, at least to begin with, he’s just as difficult to tame as a real one too. His default speed is plodding, though moving from side to side will quicken his pace and you can raise his head, enabling him to climb over objects blocking his path. Progression through the game is often slow paced, but there’s also something very relaxing about it thanks in part to the vibrant visuals and gentle music. The Unreal 4 powered cartoon visuals are a real treat, and the music from long time gaming composer David Wise fits the game very nicely indeed.

You can also wrap his lengthy body around things, such as poles, and much of the challenge of the game comes from making your way across objects, by carefully shifting and coiling his body around things as you move him along. It certainly takes some getting used to, but it’s really satisfying as things begin to click and the excellent physics of Noodle’s movements make him a joy to both watch and control.

There is a story here, though as you play through if there wasn’t some text reminding you that the characters can speak, it’s easy to forget that there is a plot.

All of the game’s 15 levels have the same objective of collecting three gems to open up the exit of the level. Once you have got to grasp with Noodle’s slithery ways, to begin with the game is relatively easy, but later on you have to contend with moving objects, some of which are placed over death-defying drops, and require you to coil around them to get from one location to the next, resulting in some frustrating moments. These sections you’ll find yourself trying over and over again, the tension in your back rising as you urge Noodle to hold on for dear life when moving over a dangerous drop; there have been many a time I have breathed a sigh of relief that he has made it across somewhere. The gameplay certainly has it edge-of-seat moments. During the later, more difficult levels, there will also be times when you’ll be defying the gameplay and making huge leaps of faith across bottomless chasms; whilst the gameplay is relaxing to begin with, there are certainly moments that are very contrary later on.

There are four types of environments on offer here, though admittedly the visuals sometimes feel that they are lacking in variation and can feel rather repetitive, especially over 15 stages. This can also grind gameplay down as you feel as though you are only repeating an area that has had extra obstacles placed or altered to increase the difficulty challenge. Some more area designs, such as perhaps an ice world, or a sandy level, would have been very welcome indeed, as what is on offer sometimes comes across as rather lazy, copy-and-paste workmanship.

There are also many collectables to find throughout the environments, a number of blue orbs being scattered about and with the hardest to find being the five gold coins, which are often placed in precarious areas, requiring meticulous manoeuvring of Noodle’s body to reach many of them. Finding all of them will grant a real sense of accomplishment and for perfectionists that are intent on hunting every single one of them down, will add additional longevity to the game.

Noodle can swim, and is even able to go under the water, although the camera isn’t very helpful a lot of the time when you do so.

The camera of the game can be a bit bothersome on occasion, requiring too many adjustments, leading to frustrating moments. You are, after all, in charge of a creature who himself isn’t always easy to control. The checkpoint system can also be annoying, as the plates you have to press to activate a checkpoint are seemingly placed in random locations. The areas you explore are open, with no particular route needing to be taken and so it can be very easy to miss a checkpoint. You always have to be aware of finding a checkpoint, and whilst that does add to the challenge of completing an area, if you die having made a lot of progress up until that point, it can put your progress back quite a bit should you not make it to a checkpoint in time.

There are only two characters present during gameplay, Noodle and his unnamed bird friend. Noodle himself is a very charming presence with an expressive face, something that can’t often be used to describe snakes. It seems Noodle also has vocal chords, as now and again he will make panicked noises when struggling over an obstacle. His bird friend also has his uses; whistling will tell the bird to lift Noodles back end, which helps when easing Noodle onto higher platforms, and in later levels this is will be a very handy move to have.

Snake Pass is a very simple game, almost comparable to a mobile game, one that shares some of its DNA with the platformer. But Noodle coils around conventions, twisting it into a game that is certainly not a platformer in the true sense, but something genuinely refreshing. All in all, this is a true slithery delight to play that is simply brimming with charisma, but isn’t without its problems.