RageSquid’s reckless rogue-bike also arrives on Nintendo Switch, ready to let us experience the thrill of downhill.
It is no mystery that Nintendo Switch is a perfect “indie machine“Playing in portability is in fact the ideal condition, if not really tempting, to approach all those productively smaller titles, many of which, not surprisingly, are slowly migrating to the technological shores of Kyoto, ready to experience a second youth. Among these there is also Descenders, a peculiar project of the Dutch team RageSquid which, after having sprinted among the eighth generation home consoles in full force, chooses today to continue its run by experiencing the thrill of the hybrid experience. The game is unique of its kind for several reasons, first of which is the desire to give an unprecedented interactive reading of the so-called downhill, a branch of extreme cycling guilty snubbed by recent and past video game development.
It is important to clarify immediately that anyone looking for a technical finish in Descenders that easily goes beyond the normal thresholds of decoration, would do well to look elsewhere. There is no porting of the title among those distributed so far that does not appear Spartan, not to mention aesthetically ugly: sharp polygonal models, interpenetrations, aliasing problems and recurrent pop-up phenomena are the foundations of a visual sector of the past, in a not exactly positive sense. Among other things, today’s Switch edition is undoubtedly the worst among all those on sale (you can also find the game on the Game Pass), subject to an obvious graphic downgrade and bent to a framerate that to define fluctuating is to want to pay him a compliment, especially if you use the hardware in a television setting. That said, and against all premises, Descenders always and in any case harbors the value of solid entertainment, of those who bet everything on the quality of the mechanics. We are on the side of third-person arcade racing, those snappy video games that prefer spectacular action, risky tricks and the physics of the character exasperated and a little clownish (à la Trials, to understand) to realistic simulation.
However, it must be admitted that the control system does not feel total repulsion towards the likelihood on the track, and that the pad in the hand does indeed have the vague impression of being maneuvering an expert mountain biker, who thrives on high-speed descents and jumps. acrobatic. It is precisely the acrobatic element of the gameplay a be particularly accurate, always able to return an adrenaline-pumping feeling between a backflip, a bunny hop and a 360 ° rotation in the air (for comparison, here you will find our review of Trial Rising).
A “rogue-bike” title
However, the good balance between unrealistic action and emulative fidelity would not be sufficient to arouse interest if Descenders were not based on an original playful formula such as the one that actually distinguishes him. Her Career mode is indeed a very successful mixture between the classic dynamics of a two-wheel race and the typical grammar of roguelikes, the uncompromising genre par excellence. Each game starts from the first level of the many that dot four macro-areas with biomes, all of which are equivalent to a run along a series of inclined paths whose edges, if necessary, can even be broken to proceed off-piste, without receiving penalty of any kind. The progression then reveals a tree structure, when the user can always decide independently which should be the next track to be tackled between the two or three gradually unlocked by the software, usually very different in terms of steepness of the dirt road, number of curves and presence of platforms for jumps.
Victory after victory is an advancement that culminates in a “mini-boss level” – no monsters to kill, just a long and somewhat risky jump – overcoming which you immediately pass to the next world. Whoever manages to complete the entire adventure in one breath, descent after descent, triumphs, preserving the health of his avatar who, on balance, has all the right cards to be compared to an action-RPG hero. Among other things, any possible fall will cost the character one life point, where exhausting them all will determine the instant game over (incidentally: in Descenders the law of permadeath applies); moreover, during the “missions”, he will often have the opportunity to meet potential allies – the Crew Members – who, if hired, will prove to be real passive perks. In addition, the biker will be able to accumulate Reputation Points through acrobatics, which can then be spent in exchange for cosmetic items and new types of races.
Respectable campaign and then?
In this way RageSquid’s “rogue-bike” guarantees a respectable replay value, marked by the fact that in the course of each level the game also invites you to pursue specific sub-objectives that range from performing specific evolutions up to the obligation to reach the finish line without ever braking or touching certain obstacles on purpose.
Not to mention that the stages of each session are generated in a procedural way, proposing circuits that are always different from the point of view of both the bare and raw level design, and the positioning of events and sporadic special challenges: for example some total freeride tests, or the – terrifying – rides with a subjective shot. Dedicating to the Descenders Career offers moments of genuine fun, a key factor in encouraging the user to engage in racing and perfect their skills as a rider attempt after attempt.
Unfortunately it must also be said that, once the appeal of the main mode is exhausted, the package does not offer playful variants of thickness. The bulk of the extra content is the meager possibility of compete on the net with other runners, to which is added an offline section called Bike Parks which is a potpourri of maps with an extravagant conformation, evidently designed for those who, already skilled enough, would like to show off their skills further. Not much, to be honest.
Descenders Extreme Procedural FreeridingNintendo Switch Analyzed VersionIf at the time of the vote we chose to pull the brakes a little, it is because the conversion for the Nintendo Switch of Descenders – the subject of this review – is definitely not a commendable job. The hybrid transposition is indeed the weakest of all the existing editions, by far the least curated and performing. That said, even in this capacity the recreational value of production remains substantially intact. The “rogue-bike” of RageSquid can be a real fun, modest and essential arcade racer but full of inspiration and passion, surprisingly capable of capturing the attention of both downhill lovers and those with the simple desire to live an on the road experience able to move away from the usual gender tracks. So far as Descenders tease you, don’t be too much trouble giving it a chance. Maybe on other gaming platforms.