Sumo Digital’s Snake Pass is on the show floor of GDC, and I had the opportunity to get a demo of the retro-inspired platformer on the Nintendo Switch. After a few minutes with the game, it’s obvious Snake Pass’s charm will slither its way into many hearts.
It’s clear what other games Snake Pass draws upon as inspiration. The roots of Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie and other brightly colored platformers from the N64 era can all be easily found while playing. However, the core mechanics of Snake Pass make it stand out as something more than a simple clone.
Players play Snake Pass as a snake named Noodle. Noodle slithers around on the ground, but also can climb objects like bamboo posts with ease. However, just like a real snake, Noodle has to wrap around posts and climb up methodically. There’s no jumping here. Even basic movement on the ground needs to be done in a way that mimics a live snake, with players slithering back and forth to move faster.
This is a very interesting way to move a character in a video game, and I can’t think of anything else that I have played that is similar. It does take time to figure out how to move around and climb to higher and higher platforms, but once everything does click, Snake Pass begins feeling surprisingly natural and intuitive. Even after 10 minutes of playing, I was already climbing tall structures and zooming around the map (while still finding myself wrapped up in a knot every now and then).
There are 15 levels in Snake Pass, each jam packed with collectibles. The main goal of each level is to collect three glowing stones which unlock the portal to the next level, however there are five coins on each level as well as 20 glowing blue orbs to find. Players only need the three stones, but I was told there is a cool reward for collecting all of the coins as well.
Each level can be completed relatively quickly, but collecting everything else does take time. Creator Seb Liese mentioned that this is a game that both rewards players for taking time on each level as well as creates a fun playground for speedrunners. Liese is a fan of the speedrunning community, and is excited to see all the crazy ways players are sure to exploit Snake Pass to shave seconds off completion time. To further encourage this, Snake Pass will open up a global leaderboard of completion times to players once they have completed the campaign.
While 15 levels don’t sound like a lot, Snake Pass is only going to cost $19.99. That’s definitely a fair price for a great platformer with this much polish on it. Especially as a game coming early to the Nintendo Switch, Snake Pass is a must-play for those who loved the classic action platformers of yesterday.
Snake Pass comes to Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC on March 28.
So what do you think? Are you excited to try out Snake Pass for yourself? What other Switch games are you excited to play? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.