When I was a teenager I had a Royal Python named Sally. She was the best snake a girl could ask for. She was cute as a button, she bit my boyfriend when he deserved it and, best of all, she would curl around my arm and watch Eastenders with me. What a good girl. Snakes are awesome. Take Noodle, the star of Snake Pass. You’d be hard pressed to find a more adorable example. With his big blue eyes, sleepy yawning and love of basking in the sun, Noodle is a loveable and brightly coloured young hero. With his hummingbird friend Doodle (I know, it keeps getting cuter), they must traverse the landscape, restoring keys to a series of magical gates.
Snake Pass is a 3D platformer with a big difference. Ever seen a snake jump? Well, unless you’ve crept up behind one and shouted ‘BOO!’ you generally won’t. To get where Noodle needs to go he must slither – up, down, underwater and way up high. Guide Noodle to collect the keys and restore the gate to each realm. Oh and Noodle might be yawning his way through it, but you’ll need to be wide awake. Easy, this game is not
There are two control schemes: a default and easy. Honestly, don’t be afraid to switch to easy the second you start to doubt your slithering prowess. There’s no shame, because easy doesn’t actually mean easy. It’s still pretty hard and takes a lot of getting used to.
To move forwards you need to guide Noodle left and right to get a good slithering rhythm and speed going. This become second nature quite quickly, but the challenge lies in Noodle’s climbing. To get up high, you’ll come across many bamboo-style wooden posts tied together to form frames. You need to wrap yourself around them and navigate your way up. Both control schemes allow you to grip tighter if you feel yourself slipping, and a quick press of triangle will command Doodle to pick up your tail to make you a little less bottom heavy. If you can get your confidence up, speed is often the best policy, but too often at crucial moments I found myself clinging on for dear life only to finally droop off the beams and sag slowly and sadly to the floor.
The physics in Snake Pass are sometimes a little too realistic for its own good. Noodle feels genuinely heavy and cumbersome (as a large half-asleep snake should!) so guiding him vertically is quite a feat. While it is entirely doable, it can be a frustrating experience which isn’t helped by a sometimes quirky camera. Coordination pays a huge part in this game and I occasionally felt as though I didn’t have enough fingers.
When you’re not twisting Noodle in knots trying to reach the stars, Snake Pass can be quite a relaxing game. With it’s laid back protagonist, relaxing music and generally restful atmosphere, there’s no need to rush anything. There are plenty of things to collect and areas to explore. Every new stage is a puzzle in itself. Where are the keys? Where are the gates? The collectables? Do I need to activate a switch? It’s good old fashioned fun and really kid friendly too.
There are check points to make life that bit easier so if you do lose control of your body completely and nose dive over the level’s edges, you hopefully won’t end up too far back. Death isn’t a massively terrible issue. When you fall, you’ll usually just end up on the ground, unless you’re one of those reckless snakes who takes his life in his own … oh, erm, scales?
If you like bright and bold graphics, you won’t be disappointed. Snake Pass looks crisp and vibrant with some beautiful sunlight and shadow effects, swaying grasses and bubbling waters. It’s a pretty game, there’s no doubt about it and it runs perfectly on the PS4 with no performance issues that we could discern.
Snake Pass is a cute and original platformer with a twist. While the controls will occasionally send you loopy, this is still a solid little game with many hours of fun. Noodle is an endearing new character and I hope we’ll hear from him again.
S J Hollis Rating – 7/10
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