(Sumo Digital for Xbox One)
By Mike Delano
Snake Pass is an easy game to like. It’s made by Sumo Digital, the U.K. developer with a great track record for its work on games like Outrun 2 and Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. It’s bright and cheery (even the grass seems to be doing a happy dance), has a cute anthropomorphic reptile lead and recalls the colorful 3D collect-a-thons of the late ’90s like Banjo-Kazooie, Rayman 2 and Super Mario 64. It’s got a polished, professional look and a whimsical soundtrack to boot. As easy as it is to like, though, you may find it hard to love until you get a handle on the controls. Guiding Noodle the snake through these levels in search of the colorful keys needed to progress is a fascinating process since you need to genuinely think like a snake, from shimmying side to side to gain speed to coiling around objects to reach new heights. It’s a neat idea, and one that demands more patience and practice than you might expect from something so cute. When you have that “a-ha” moment with the controls, though, and everything clicks, it makes the game even more satisfying to play, and you’ll need your newly-advanced skills since the later levels throw all sorts of curveballs at you. Charming, accomplished and fun, Snake Pass is a quietly ambitious puzzle platformer that nods to a bygone era but exhibits gamemaking acumen that is distinctly modern day.