If getting on a mountain bike and barreling down hills on procedural tracks while pulling off tricks sounds like your jam then have I got a game to tell you about. Descenders from developer RageSquid and publisher No More Robots is exactly that type of game. It’s been out in early access for a little while now on Xbox One and PC but it has now released in full on those platforms and on PlayStation 4 where I played it. How did the finish product turn out?
Let’s start off by talking about the Career Mode in Descenders which is where I spent most of my time. In this mode you are presented with a map with a bunch of different nodes on it. There are a few different maps that you’ll advance through all with their own environmental theme. You start off in the highlands map and after you beat it you’ll advance to the forest map, desert map, and so on. Each of the nodes on the map is a different procedurally generated track and your goal is to beat each one on your way to getting to the boss jump node on each map. If you beat a track then it will unlock one or more nodes on the map and eventually, you’ll reach the boss jump. There are many paths to this node so how you get there is up to you. If you beat the boss jump node then you advance to a next map and repeat the process again. Oh, and one thing I didn’t mention is that you have lives and anytime you crash during a track you lose one. If you run out then you have to start your Career run all over again which gives the game a roguelike feel to it.
From the map you can see the difficulty of the node before you select it. How tough the course will be is determined by how many turns there are, how many jumps, and other factors. If you think one might be too tough you can always pick another track on the map which is why I said there isn’t just one path to the boss jump node. Every track also has objectives you can strive to complete that can reward you with extra lives which come in handy should you lose multiple on a single level. These aren’t always easy to do though as one might ask you to complete the track without letting off the pedal button. Playing the game is quite fun as the bikes handle well and there is a great sense of speed when barreling down hill. Some courses have paths to follow to the finish line while others put you in a wide-open level and let you find your own path to the finish line using an on-screen compass. Tricks can be pulled off when going off jumps using the analog stick and doing so will earn you reputation points. The boss jump levels are called what they are because they end with you taking a huge jump over something. This can be a train, a volcano, and other such things and it’s always a rush seeing if you’re going to make it or not.
If you do well enough you can earn sponsorships which open up new races for you to compete in. There are also lots of ways to customize your look including new clothes and helmets all of which can display your sponsors. There isn’t much more I can say about the gameplay as that about cover it but I will say it can be quite addictive. It just gave me that “one more go” feeling every time I would either finish a track or crash on my last life. Outside of the career mode you can mess around in a bike park level, play some really tough obstacle course levels, or jump online to compete against other players.
In terms of how Descenders looks I think it looks OK coming from a smaller team. None of the environments blew me away but they looked good enough and there are some nice weather variations in it. I did encounter some frame-rate issues at times though so hopefully those can be worked out in a patch. Load times can also be a tad long due to the fact that each track is created on the fly.
Descenders will be a great time for anyone who is looking for an adrenaline filled, mountain bike, stunt game. It’s got a great sense of speed, solid controls, and gave me that “one more go” feeling frequently. It isn’t impressive visually and it does have some technical issues that need to be worked out. If you can look past those issues, you’ll find a solid game with constant new courses to conquer.
*Descenders is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Fun, mountain bike game with a great sense of speed
- Lots of customization items to unlock
- Procedural courses mean you'll always have a new track to conquer
- Nice set of biomes to play in
- Has some framerate issues and long load times
- Those who don't roguelike elements may get frustrated with progresson in the career mode