Effortlessly into my Top 10
Descenders is, by and large, a very easy game to get into. To say this particular game is easily digestible is an understatement. Descenders is the type of game you play on the side, on a second monitor whilst you do literally anything else but, you still get the full experience. You can tell that the developers, RageSquid put numerous hours into crafting the perfect experience that says with you from your first ride to your millionth. So let’s do a Descenders PC Review!
Now, Descenders is 2 things I usually avoid. Firstly it’s an Independent game. I’ve always had the misfortune of buying an indie game only to find that its either: very experimental; and not in the Hideo Kojima way, just not what I expected; or a blatantly unfinished game that spun out of Steam Early Access. Fortunately for myself, Descenders was none of this. I went in thinking ‘Fun trail biking game’ and that’s what I got. No ifs ands or buts to be found.
I tend to avoid Unity Engine games as many games built with Unity are -unfortunately- assent flips. “Developers” who take assets from the Unity Store and Frankenstein’s monster them together as quickly as possible to push them out the door at bargain bucket prices to make a quick return on the assets they bought just to start afresh a week later. Other times they are good games but have a myriad of issues that run long into the lifespan of the game. I can safely say Descenders has none of that.
I suppose we should go over the technical side of things in this review now.
To start off let’s go over the games own system requirements on PC.
|MINIMUM||Intel Core-i5||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 (Equivalent or higher)||4GB|
|RECOMMENDED||“High-Range” Intel Core-i5||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 (Equivalent or higher)||8GB|
Now lets compare those specifications, to the hardware playing the game:
|Intel Core-i7 7700k||NVIDIA GTX 1080||32GB|
As you can see, my system is not top shelf material (anymore) but I can comfortably play and stream this game. If I could do some more testing I would, but money -though made of them- does not grow on trees. Now, the specifications may be vague; but I can go into detail when talking about the performance.
Where do I begin? Lets start at the buttery smooth 144+FPS even on the highest graphical fidelity. This game is optimised and looks amazing. It’s like the developers took all the beauty of CryEngine and all the TLC given to DOOM (2016), and produced sheer perfection. I can safely say in the 70+ hours I have put into this game that the tally for the game crashing, freezing or having any issues at all, is zero.
Though some bike parks can cause a lower frame rate than others, this is due to the sheer volume of these parks. Each subsequent park added is bigger than the previous and includes significantly more ramps and terrain to cover. Atop this, some parks are considerably more popular than others meaning that more people equates to more things being rendered. The only time this is any form of issue is when I stream these particular parks. To compensate for this I do just drop the quality settings to medium however this is my default for most games anyway.
Lets take a look at a benchmark I ran with the game on the default HIGH settings.
|MINIMUM FRAMERATE||0.5 FPS||100% when loading a level. Is also the 1% and 0.1% MIN|
|AVERAGE FRAMERATE||222.7 FPS|
|MAXIMUM FRAMERATE||526.9 FPS|
Here’s the issue: I can’t not talk about the gameplay. It is all this game really has going for it in my opinion. This is where the DOOM (2016) comparison comes into play. If you know me, you know I am a huge DOOM fan. Just like the team at id, RageSquid knew what this game needed in order to be as popular as it is. If the gameplay isn’t good, the game isn’t fun.
When your game has a backseat (or non-existent) story, your gameplay needs to go above and beyond. You need to keep the people engaged, this can be done in 1 of 2 ways: make the gameplay fluid, fun and fascinating. Make the player want to push forward, leave them hanging on for just that bit more, but not for too long.
Alternatively make the gameplay easy to learn, hard to master and awe-inspiring; or take both sides of this coin, merge them… and pull it off. I can play this game whilst doing anything. I can be sitting watching a film, talking to friends or (if I were brazen enough) working. This game is so simple that it does not require your full attention, but you’re doing yourself a disservice is you neglect to give it your all.
The game is (from what I can recall from a drunken stream months ago), heavily inspired by the simplicity of the SKATE series. Push 1 button to move, 1 stick to steer and all the stunts are controlled by a simple flick of the analogue stick with all modifiers applied by the push of a button; simple. But where is the ‘awe’ I spoke of? Triple back-flip superman… over a canyon. 360 back-flip no hands over a moving train through a ring of fire? Jumping from 1 mountain, back-flipping into a mini half-pipe, suspended in the air by a helicoper, through that into a 360 front flip, onto another mountain.
Hows that for awe-inspiring?
There are 4 levels in the standard “Career” mode. Highlands: dirt tracks, rocks, grass and stone features. Nice simple country stuff. From here you move on to Forest: steep dirt tracks that twist and wind into mostly wooden ramps and from those ramps… trees. in short, go a little slower. From here we make our way to the Canyon: steep downhill dirt and rock track littered with opportunities to do double and even triple flips, you can easily rack up a high score on this level just to learn what steep really means when you go to the Peaks. Starting from a helicoper jump you are met with extreme downhill action through a snowy tundra where even the slightest bump can send you airborne for seconds or wipe you out just as quick.
Every biome has 8 types of blip: a standard track, sponsored track, first-person locked track, a special track, ‘Fire Node’, a medic camp, a ‘DANGER ZONE’ and last (but certainly not least) the boss track. A standard track is indicated by a grey circle, each track has 3 bars to help you gauge your preferred track. Steepness, Stuns and Curves; easy stuff. Though this status bar is there for all tracks (apart from the special track) you should note that a ‘Fire Node’ will add a flaming hoop to the boss jump. This will increase the precision needed on that final jump.
Medic camps will give you an extra life just for completing them unlike most other tracks that require you to pass the optional objective in order to gain an extra life. You pick a sponsor from 1 of the available 3, do their track and get sponsored. Each team has their own objectives to help you rank up and get nicer looking gear. This game is built off of individual skill as such there are no performance upgrades. It’s just you and own metal.
I’ll let you discover the rest for yourself. Lets wrap this section up.
The gameplay is intense. Like all good games, this game starts off slow and eases you into the flow of things. From there everything does get harder and harder. Maps transition from daylight to pitch black is you spend too long in them. You can even get tracks that are just open fields and a compass. Find the exit. If this very wordy section seems like overselling the game then so be it but I cannot state just how easy yet how much fun this game is.
I have skipped a few things like the bike parks but those are what you should expect. They aren’t 20 different little self contained maps – they are the 1 map, some are technical, some are stunt orientated and all are fun. Solid gameplay – I cannot fault it.
I can’t seem to find one. I would assume that you are a mountain biker who goes out into the trails on the biomes named above to have a good time and you end up getting sponsored, from there you make your way through your particular sponsors’ rankings until you reach the top. But that’s just speculation.
Like I said earlier: ‘When your game has a backseat (or non-existent) story, your gameplay needs to go above and beyond’. As a result, I don’t notice the story – if there is one. Regardless, the career mode is spectacular and often challenging. I cannot recommend it enough. Yes, you can go to a bike park and shred until your heart is content, or the alternative is to do the career mode and carve a path through the different biomes collecting as many lives as you can and pulling insane tricks and flips over some impressive features. After the short tutorial, the game stops holding your hand and sets you free. Almost like learning to ride a bike.
I know the last section was short and to be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve done this game justice just yet. I want to talk about the developers -RageSquid. Now I have only interacted with one member of the development team – Rosie. Allow me to set the scene. I’m about 2 beers into a weekend, it’s just before 11 pm and I decide I am going to start streaming.
I only have about 30 hours on the game at this point but I start up the stream and just start going HAM all over the tracks. Spotify blaring in my ears and chat is essentially dead. Out of the blue RageSquid stats talking in chat asking how I like the game. As many people can attest – I’m a lightweight. It takes longer than I would like to admit to realise just who is in my chat.
At this point chat gets busy and we just start talking about the game. I often remember this old quote my parents and family members say: A drunk mans words are a sober mans thoughts. Well me and Rosie are riffing on for a good 3 hours, drinking, jamming and gaming. I get a valuable insight into the developers minds and I even play some maps with him. He drops me a follow and even gives one of my mods a game key just because he says he likes the look of the game.
The developers work hard on this game. I cannot commend them enough for the effort they put into this game. Atop this, the stream the game often. They share sage wisdom about the game and even give us a sneak peek into the upcoming updates. We know right now that we are getting a new bike park and some new tricks. We even got a good look at them on the livestream as they were happy to show all that they had worked on. I wish more developers were like this.
New tricks are coming to Descenders! pic.twitter.com/CajsMZEmId— RageSquid (@RageSquid) August 20, 2020
I don’t think its any secret at this moment in time. This games a solid
The developers worked hard to craft an experience, an experience that can be enjoyed by the most casual of gamers and the most hardcore. I have literally no gripes with this game and can highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to play. Descenders is now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC via both Steam and Xbox Game Pass. Descenders will also be available on Nintendo Switch soon.
I have sank more hours into this game than pounds I paid to play. Don’t deprive your inner SKATE fan, get this game.
If you wish to why I started this website then read the About Me I have wrote. I will update this site with old reviews when I get time, but right now I am looking forward to some new games to write about.