Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows
Snake Pass is an indie physics based 3D platformer with a premise that I found fascinating when I first read about it - you play as a snake. Granted, it's a stupid snake (what kind of snake is a vegetarian?) named Noodle, but still, a platformer where you play as a snake sounded really cool. Unfortunately, the best part of the game is the premise.
Story is definitely not this game's strong point. Honestly, I don't even remember what the story is, and I started the game this week. Something about having to recover magic crystals to restore portals or...something. That's your objective in each level - find a green, yellow, and red crystal, bring them to a portal to activate it and leave the area. In addition to your main objective, there are like 15 or 20 bubbles in each level and 5 golden coins that you can collect. They don't really do anything; there aren't any secret levels that they unlock or anything. They're just kind of there to give an extra little challenge. I promptly ignored all of the ones that I didn't stumble upon as I searched for the crystals.
In general, this game personifies "okay." The visuals are good, but they're not mindblowing. The sound design, both music and sound effects are extraordinary only in their mediocrity and sheer forgettability. The game does excel in one area, however - level design. All of the game's 15 levels - broken into four different worlds - are very well designed and keep the challenge interesting and gradually increasing. Well, mostly gradually; there are a couple of parts that are abruptly REALLY difficult. Most of the game's difficulty, however, are due to the aspect that pretty much totally undermines the game's fantastic level design - controls. On the surface, the controls seem fine; the right trigger makes you slither forward, the left trigger makes you grip (to help with coiling or climbing), the Y button has your hummingbird friend (named Doodle) pick up your ass, and the A button lifts your head (so you can climb). The left control stick controls which way Noodle moves, and the right control stick controls the camera. Pretty standard, right? Well, there's one GLARING flaw with the controls - Noodle will abruptly start moving in the opposite direction if the camera passes a certain threshold. If you're turning to the right and move the camera, you'll start turning to the left so quickly that it's a miracle the damn snake doesn't get whiplash. Couple this with a generally shitty camera that seemingly goes out of its way to do the opposite of what you want it to, and you take what could have been a fun platformer and get a recipe for unbridled frustration. I was really enjoying the challenge up until about level 12 or 13. Then it became more frustrating than fun, and that's not a point that games should hit.
Snake Pass is a tragic story of a young indie game bursting with potential and living up to none of it. Well, "none" is a bit harsh; it does have some legitimately clever level design, and the concept is brilliant. If you can get past the awkward controls and temperamental camera, one might have a lot of fun with this game, although the game feels a bit like trying to play Sonic the Hedgehog with Chris Redfield from Resident Evil (a description some of my Racketboy friends found hilarious). Even with those issues, though, I really enjoyed the first three quarters or so of the game. Towards the end, though, the camera and controls just get too frustrating to be worth it. It's definitely not worth the $20 it currently costs, but if you see it on sale for less than $10, I'd say it's worth a sale download.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.