After a chilly weekend in Boston, PAX East concluded with a strong showing of anticipated titles and gems that demanded attention. Nuzzled between the known and the unheard of comfortable awaited Snake Pass, the upcoming title by Sumo Digital that makes being a snake a great delight.
You assume the role of Noodle the charismatic serpent and must consistently weave back and forth to solve physic based puzzles. As I was learning how to become a successful snake, Sebastian Liese—the creator of Snake Pass—sat down with me to coach me in the art of movement.
“The whole game is about managing this long muscle body and using is curves, friction, and contact points to scale the environment the way a snake would,” Liese explained. “If you think, ‘How would a real snake do this?’ That’s almost always the best way to do it. I really wanted to make it biologically correct. So the whole thing acts like a real muscle. Of course, we had to gamify it a little bit to make some of the gameplay smoother. Most real snakes can’t even move in a straight line at all. In our game, you slow down rather than completely stop because that was a little bit too punishing.”
What Liese said made perfect sense as I navigated through obstacles. Once I literally started snaking my way around, it all clicked. Even while climbing or swimming, I still had to think like a snake, making sure to loop and coil Noodle’s body around things so no momentum was lost and adjusting the curves and angles needed to swim through gaps or squeeze between beams.
“I’ve always wanted pet snakes, but my parents never let me. So the moment I went to university and started living on my own, I immediately bought two snakes.” Liese laughed. “After university, I actually became a biology teacher and was for four years. I sort of had this double life. During the day I pretended to be this really responsible biology teacher. And in the evenings I would play Little Big Planet into the late hours. I made a ton of levels and mini-games in there, and after four years of being a teacher, I got an email from Sumo Digital asking if I wanted to work with them on Little Big Planet 3. So I quit teaching and moved to England and started working on Little Big Planet.”
The love of snakes and game design were about to come colliding together for a former biology-teacher-turned-game-designer as opportunity was about to come slithering in.
“After Little Big Planet 3 was done I had to move onto a new project. They gave me two weeks to learn Unreal to get ready for the new project. In those two weeks, I came up with a prototype basically from experimenting,” Liese stated. “Around that time there was also the Game Jam, so I submitted it as a Game Jam, and it won. So they gave me three guys and three months to make something small they could put on Steam as sort of a promotional thing, but after those three months we showed the bosses what we had done.”
Liese continued, “They were so impressed by the potential and the amount of work we managed to do in three months they were like, ‘It’s too good now. We’re going to give you a real team, production time, and a real budget.’ So we ended up working for about a year on it with between 10 and 20 people, and this is the result.”
Players can join Noodle in Snake Pass March 28 on all current gen platforms including the Switch for $19.99. If you’re a fan of colorful worlds and a great challenge, I highly recommend you don’t sleep on this title.
“It’s obviously very much inspired by the games I grew up with in the 90s. Like Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon, Donkey Kong, and the happy platforming games on the 90s.” Liese concluded. “Even now when I’m looking to buy a new game, that’s still the type of game I’m looking for.”