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Mountain biker Descenders is out in early access

Bike crash

Hello. If you fancy breaking your neck and tumbling downhill through a dense patch of conifers, you’re in luck. Descenders, the mountain biking game with roguelite undertones, is out in early access today. I wasn’t wholly convinced of its muddy cycling when I tried a preview copy but I did enjoy all the painful giffage that resulted in my doomed attempts to get past the second level. So maybe you'll be into that. Then again, maybe not. I don't know. We've barely spoken since that night in July.

To sum it up: it’s a physics-based third-person Trials with more precise handling and procedural level generation. You advance through stages on a roguelite map of branching paths, choosing the next course according to how “curvy” or “steep” they are, or how many stunts they have. There are currently four domains in which to careen downhill, but you have to beat each area multiple times to unlock the ability to go straight to a particular domain. Is this making sense? It’s basically FTL but instead of going on fire and accidentally flushing yourself out of an airlock you simply faceplant into a rock.

I found the helmet tip to the roguelike genre a little out of place, and the limited lives (you get four at the beginning of each “session”) mean you have to learn how to control your wheeled mount under the chronic pain of a game over screen. In other words, it's tougher than it appears.

You can scrape back a life in each level by completing bonus objectives. For example, doing 2 backflips or reaching a specific speed. But the game also takes these away from you if you happen to bail after achieving said bonus objective. For instance, I just popped back into the game, did a 720 and felt very proud of myself before crashing head first into a tree. In the corner of my screen, where the bonus objective was once a ‘well done you!’ green, it now appeared in its old neutral black and white. Retroactively erasing a bonus like this feels punitive. By bailing, I have effectively lost two lives – one from falling and the other which I’d thought was in the bank after doing my sweet trick. Booooo.

Anyway, enough of my whining. It’s on Steam for £19.49 (currently discounted to £17.54) if you fancy a couple of bloodied elbows.

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About the Author
Brendan Caldwell avatar

Brendan Caldwell


Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.

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