Review: Descenders – NWTV

Last year came Descenders out for Xbox One and PC and now PlayStation 4 owners can get started with this downhill mountain bike game from the Dutch developer RageSquid. In this review you can read our findings.

Basically Descenders so a downhill mountain bike game. You cycle from a starting point to an end, while you race through different environments such as forests and high plains. Turns and jumps alternate at a rapid pace. To make it all a little more interesting, the game contains some roguelike elements. For example, the levels are procedurally generated, so that you are always offered a different course. Various parameters ensure that one time you encounter more turns and in another level you will be able to make a lot of jumps. In any case, it ensures that there is a lot of variation and you will not get bored as quickly.

Eventually it turns in Descenders for two things: gain as much reputation as possible and complete a final jump to move to the next area. You start each session with four lives, if you fall off your bike you lose a life. When they are all gone, the session is over and you can start a new session. You decide which levels you want to play. Do you go for a little more certainty on a fairly simple course or do you choose a very challenging one. There are also special levels, such as the possibility to complete a course in first-person or to reach the top on a construction site. Eventually you will end up at a level that contains a so-called ‘final jump’. Completing this will take you to a new area. Each level also contains a bonus goal and by completing it, you gain an extra life.

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Cycling in itself is not that difficult. If you don’t do crazy things, you will reach the finish in many levels without too many problems. The challenge is mainly in doing tricks during the jumps. These are quite difficult to do well without falling flat on your face. On the other hand, you will get extra reputation for it.

The big problem of Descenders is that in the end there is simply too little to do and you will not really be rewarded. Gaining reputation is all well and good, but it is of little use to you. It is used for leaderboard and to unlock a new set of four environments. So doing tricks during the jumps actually has little use, except that you can challenge yourself a bit. Furthermore, you occasionally get some cosmetic items in the form of new bicycles, helmets, shirts and the like, but this also has little to do. In the end, there is simply little reason to start a new session every time.

Descenders is not a bad game, but it just doesn’t have enough to enjoy for a long time. Gaining reputation doesn’t lead anywhere, so it doesn’t really make sense to do tricks on the jumps. The cosmetic items are nice, but add nothing. The roguelike elements give a fun twist to the game, but soon the fun fades to start a new session every time.

For this review Descenders was played on PlayStation 4. The game is also available for Xbox One and PC. A Nintendo Switch version should be released later this year.

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