Review: Snake Pass

If you didn't know any better, to look at it you might think that Snake Pass was a first party Nintendo launch title for the Switch, or failing that this was Rareware circa 1999 returning for one last hurrah on a Nintendo home console. As it is, Sumo Digital has created a colourful, vibrant world and characters coupled with some throwback platform and puzzle solving game play that is right at home on a Nintendo console and a great addition to the Switch launch line up.

With Playtonic's Yooka-Laylee on the horizon (or already in the hands of PS4 and Xbox gamers) as well the 3D platformer is enjoying a mini renaissance as it were. Snake Pass sets its stall out very early, introducing you to Noodle the snake and his sidekick Doodle the hummingbird looking to find out what's going on in their home world of Haven Tor. They even squawk and jabber abit like Banjo and Kazooie in their pomp, although storyline and cutscenes are at a minimum and, let's be honest, just get in the way of the fifteen levels on offer.

Snake Pass

The game play does get a bit of time to get used to and follows the classic blueprint of easy to learn yet hard to master. ZR moves Noodle forward and then you manipulate the left analogue stick left and right to make Noodle slither and pick up speed, with the A button lifting his head up.

It's the first snake simulator I can think of, and it does feel somewhat counterintuitive initially. Many times I found myself not moving forward wondering why, only to realise I was just holding the analogue stick forward and not getting that momentum going. The main bulk of collectables are garnered by using the bamboo poles situated around the levels; again the first few times I was falling off of them and getting incredibly frustrated, yet after a few hours I was wrapping myself around them and reaching hitherto ungainable secrets.

The game feels bright and breezy with a brilliant musical score by David Wise of Donkey Kong Country/Rare fame really adding to the experience. He's channeled all of his best work and given each of the four world's a distinct feel while also retaining an overarching style too. The graphics again add to this relaxed style, big bombastic bright hues bring the levels to life and make each one a joy to explore, and there is plenty to explore.

The main crux to each level is to collect three keystones to progress and open up the next one. Within these levels there are also sixteen blue wisps to pick and, just for good measure, five gatekeeper coins as well. Again, it's fairly straightforward to collect all of the keystones, yet to pick up all of the wisps and especially the coins will take a real mastery of the controls and levels as well; you'll get back what you put into this game and then some. I completed the fifteen levels in about 10 hours or so, yet with so many wisps and coins left this could easily occupy a good 20 odd hours or more of your gaming time.

Snake Pass

There are niggles, notably and almost clichéd for a 3D platformer the camera does cause a few more headaches than it should and gets trapped on scenery at some crucial moments. And although the controls are there to be mastered, sometimes I simply found it easier to brute force my way over a tricky section rather than finnese it. It could be argued that it encourages different ways to play and different routes to take, however it was usually after trying and failing the more tactical option that I thought "to hell with it" and grabbed a key stone through sheer force more than anything else.

Still, these are minor issues and do nothing to dissuade from what is an essential purchase on the Switch. If you've had enough Zelda or simply want something different in between play session on Breath of the Wild, I can't recommend Snake Pass highly enough.

There may be something to be said for Nintendo's release schedules and just sending the Switch out with Zelda and nothing else, however it has forwarded the opportunity to smaller indie titles like this to take up the baton, and Sumo Digital has grasped it with both hands, giving Switch owners the next must own title after Link's aforementioned adventure.

And I wrote all that without a single snake based pun. Exsssscelent.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Snake Pass is a charming example of a platformer which has an entirely fresh concept which makes the game world and main characters come to life in ways which are unexpected but welcome. A pleasantly surprising hit which though not perfect works well on its own merits in addition to being a very welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch library which is gradually growing over time.

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



An entirely original concept
Challenging but fair gameplay
Delightfully well animated
Exceptional musical score


A few minor camera issues
Mildly frustrating at times

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