Snake Pass is an upcoming title for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC from Sumo Digital, a large independent studio that up until now had not released a game entirely their own, instead developing games for some of the largest franchises on behalf of major publishers. Titles like LittleBigPlanet 3, Crackdown 3, and several racing titles among many others, and as evident from our time with Snake Pass at this past PAX East, they’ve poured that expertise into their upcoming title all about a slithering snake.
For a very kid-friendly game, Snake Pass has a difficulty range available that spans from very easy, to quite, quite hard. Players take control of a snake named Noodle, who is assisted at times by their hummingbird pal, Doodle; and in taking control of Noodle, players have to wrap their heads around the unique control-scheme of controlling a snake. Snake Pass is a puzzle adventure game, and most of the challenge comes from the controls and the obstacles that Sumo Digital has set out for Noodle.
Put simply, the controls automate almost nothing of what Noodle does, and are very well thought-out for controlling a snake, however most players walking into Snake Pass will never have controlled a snake before or thought like one. Noodle has to be propelled forward and controlled to weave back and forth, like a snake does, to gain any kind of momentum; and when faced with any vertically-inclined obstacles, must twist and weave Noodle upward and around planks of wood and other objects by raising or lowering Noodles head, tightly gripping around objects or letting loose, and at times calling Doodle to swoop in and help lift Noodle’s tail end. The depth of the controls are all put to use moment to moment as players need to be very wary of balance and gravity at all times if they have any hope of progressing. There is an easier version of these controls available as well, but Sumo Digital pointed out the easier version is designed for children as the full controls take a bit to get used to.
With the controls somewhat understood, we played through each of the demos available to us at PAX East, which were an easy, medium, and hard mode. As we went along we got a pretty good handle of the controls, and rather enjoyed them and the challenge they presented. The challenge of the environments present in the game steadily increased, eventually involving many harrowing jumps and flings of Noodle, stretching over spikes to awkwardly positioned dangling posts, and the swinging blades of windmills.
As for the story, to quote Sumo Digital, “when the tranquillity of Haven Tor is interrupted by a mysterious interloper only the unlikeliest of heroes can save the day! Meet Noodle the Snake and his hyperactive best friend, Doodle the Hummingbird, who together must reunite the missing Keystones with the magical gates that give Haven Tor its mythical power.” Our experience with the story was slim during our demo, which for a puzzle game of this kind is par for the course. The story experience more so came from the experience of completing the levels as Noodle, and from the beautiful environments themselves. You can tell a AAA developer created this game from the well crafted controls, the visual experience the game provides, and the challenging environments.
We’re looking forward to Snake Pass, which launches soon on March 29th. Players of all ages should take note.