Last week, I was fortunate enough to visit the Sumo Digital booth at PAX East in order to check out Snake Pass, the studio’s latest game that will launch on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Switch, and PC later this month. As a fan of platform games, I was excited to check out Snake Pass because it looked like a love-letter to some of the most iconic titles in the genre. After starting the demo, I was proven wrong because the game features unique gameplay mechanics that differentiates itself from other platform titles.
Snake Pass feels like a platform game without any platforms. In the demo, there are no jumps or special abilities. Players control Noodle the Snake and his companion Doodle the Hummingbird. In order to be successful, players must act completely like a snake. This means that you must slither in a zigzag formation to smoothly traverse around the ground and wrap around bamboo looking poles to reach higher areas. If you are close to reaching a platform, but don’t think that Noodle can make it to the top, fear not, because Doodle can rescue you. With a simple press of a button, Doodle can pick up Noodle by the tail and help him climb a ledge. As someone who found Snake Pass to be difficult, this gameplay mechanic was my saving grace plenty of times.
Snake Pass is an extremely challenging game that rewards players for mastering the gameplay mechanics. During my hands-on session, one of the developers sat down with me and explained how to play the game. Even after learning how to control Noodle, I found myself struggling to complete the objective. Controlling Noodle seems simple enough, but apparently being a snake isn’t as easy as it seems. The game’s physics are fairly realistic. Noodle can’t just climb on ledges and progress. He needs to turn into poles and wrap around them. If it looks like our hero is going to fall to the ground, it’s possible to tighten his grip around a structure and reposition himself in order to successfully traverse across platforms. Additionally, Noodle can slither around in circles to build up momentum before attempting a climb.
Snake Pass features 15 levels that all have the same objective. Noodle must find three keystones that will unlock a gate to reach the next level. While that seems simple enough, these items are scattered across worlds full of dangerous obstacles that Noodle needs to traverse. Additionally, there are optional orbs and coins around each zone that will require some serious skill to obtain. During the easy level of the demo, I found most of the collectibles, but I missed almost all of them in the medium level.
After completing and struggling through two levels, the developer who sat with me played the hardest level of the demo while I watched. This particular level featured spike pits, windmills that threw Noodle across the map, and other hazards. I was in awe as he perfectly navigated through the level with ease. Snake Pass is the type of game that I think will spawn a dedicated speedrunning community.
Visually, Snake Pass is vibrant, colorful, and beautiful to look at. All of the environments are lush and remind me of plenty of Rare’s most iconic games. Noodle in particular is adorable and features some of the cutest facial expressions I have ever seen in a video game. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to hear the audio aspect of the game because of the noise in the convention center.
Sumo Digital’s Snake Pass is the best game that I played at PAX East. Not only is it beautiful to look at, the game is really fun. While difficult, Snake Pass features rewarding gameplay. Even after failing miserably during some of the tougher sections, each and every attempt made me try harder than the last. In two weeks, Snake Pass will be released for Xbox One, Switch, PC, and Playstation 4. If the PAX East demo is any indication of the final release, Snake Pass is one game that you won’t want to pass on.