Downhill mountain biking sounds like a lark. What could be more pleasant than gliding down scenic valleys and weaving between the pines... at about 80kmh? Ah, yeah, I'd forgotten that bit. Downhill mountain biking sounds awful.
Google tells me that's the top speed for real world bikers, but the ones in Descenders seem to eclipse that - as we'll get to experience firsthand when the game launches on Steam Early Access February 9th. This isn't RageSquid's first foray into racing - they also made Action Henk, a game that's sans bicycles but big on butt-sliding.
There's more going on under the hood here (let's just pretend that's a thing bikes have) than in your typical racing game: the action takes place in procedurally generated worlds, which suggests you'll have to think on your feet/wheels rather than practice the same bends again and again.
Here's the announcement trailer from July to give you a taste of what it all looks like:
The devs say the game will stay in early access for 6-9 months, though the version that launches in two weeks will include a full singleplayer campaign, online leaderboards and a sizeable collection of unlockable kits and bikes. They'll add more "bikes, kits, worlds, tweaks, tricks, and more" in the months to come.
The procedural generation stands out to me as the most interesting thing about Descenders. Procgen can be a powerful tool for keeping a game from getting stale too quickly, and it's refreshing to see it take centre stage in a game that isn't a roguelike.
Also of note are the social features, which revolve around picking one of three teams that love pulling tricks, off-road antics or going real fast. As you play you'll earn 'Rep Points' for your chosen team, which earns you team-specific gear that's separate to the main unlock system. You also get to chat to your fellow team members on a special locked Discord channel, which somehow seems both silly and neat.
RPS reader 'ShrikeMalakim' popped this video in the comments on Adam's post about the game's announcement, and HOLY CRAP is real life downhill mountain biking terrifying. I'm almost too traumatised to face playing the virtual version.
Descenders will be out February 9th on Steam Early Access for £19.49/$24.99/€22.99.