Snake Pass is a nostalgic return to the classic 3D platformer genre. It's gibberish-talking central duo and soundtrack penned by David Wise are especially reminiscent of Rare’s N64 catalogue, but in terms of mechanics, the game is almost entirely individual.
It takes some getting used to, but once you have the knack of it, controlling Snake Pass becomes intensely rewarding.
Unlike most of its peers, Snake Pass is devoid of enemies, and, thus, combat. There are moving traps and deadly pits, but even those are relatively sparse, so you’ll mostly meet your end by slipping from a ledge and suffering a fatal fall as you seek to hoard a level’s collectibles.
Each level contains three Keystones that are directly tied to progression, in addition to optional pickups in floating bubbles, which generally litter your more immediate path, and deviously hidden gold coins. There’s seemingly no tangible payoff for gathering the non-primary collectibles, but ticking all of a level’s boxes will be reward enough for completionists. Some, however, may be deterred from the pursuit by occasionally poor checkpoint placement, which can lead to losing decent chunks of progress (as well as anything gathered in that timeframe) to challenging sections far removed from any safe haven.
While this issue wasn’t prevalent enough to cause any real frustration, that certainly wasn’t the case on the odd occasion Noodle became completely stuck and restarting the entire level was the only available workaround. Just as the option to reload a checkpoint is missing, so too is the ability to change the camera sensitivity, which feels too sluggish by default. There’s also no in-game option to disable the irritating Joy-Con rumble that emits a sound like a rusty harmonica, though, mercifully, you can do so in the Switch’s System Settings menu.
Snake Pass’ level-based structure is a perfect fit for gaming on the go, comfortably accommodating play in short bursts, which is how we’d recommend approaching the Switch version. When docked the increase in resolution is immediately noticeable, but the trade-off isn’t worth it when the frame rate suffers as a result, as was the case with Breath of the Wild.
While issues - some of which affect the Switch port specifically - can slightly hamper the experience, ultimately, Sumo Digital have successfully melded retro and modern design to achieve an inspired middle ground. When you consider Snake Pass’ stellar visual and aural presentation, along with its uniquely rewarding mechanics and lovable protagonist, Noodle, fans would have to be mad to miss this catalyst for the 3D platforming revival. Pressure’s on, Yooka-Laylee!