Descenders, is a strange title, the graphics are nothing impressive and could be easily mistaken for late PS3/Xbox 360, luckily it has a lot more to offer than eye candy, so grab your fluorescent riding pants and let’s dive deep.
Not Much to Look At.
The scope of the tracks you race down are impressive, they feel open world, and the attention to detail such as patches of wildflowers is a nice touch, graphically however the textures and models look distinctly last generation, if you take the tracks as a whole they look lovely, but upon closer inspection, they all look pretty rough.
Luckily most of the time, you are flying past rocks and tree’s at 30+ mph, and I believe that is part of the reason the developers opted for lower quality models and textures.
In addition, the lower quality textures and models allows for some pretty impressive FPS, I was pulling 120FPS on Ultra (PC), and on lower settings, I even broke the 200 FPS barrier, considering how punishing mistakes are in Descenders, a high level of control is essential and in this aspect, RageSquid has exceeded all my expectation.
The player model is disappointing; it contorts in strange positions and suffers from multiple badly clipping textures when wearing different kits, undoubtedly built first and foremost around the physics aspect of collisions.
The male model is terrible, but female players have it even worse, with the female player model looking and sounding like the male model, just having slightly longer hair.
My final gripe before we heap on the praise is lack of Collison with other bikers, for a game that is focused around avoiding mistakes, it seems odd I can drive right through other players and suffer no consequence.
But Descenders, has it where it counts.
Descenders, has a fantastic community thanks to the Xbox Game Pass, while it appears close to dead on Steam, the fact PC players all play together means no matter what time of the day you play, you will encounter others racing down the tracks beside you, while you can’t really interact much with them, it’s nice to see.
The community interaction takes place chiefly around the discord community, where each of the three joinable racing teams has its own discord, its pretty nice to see players repping their respective organisations and helps make the game world feel alive and competitive.
For those who are into a little more than just throwing themselves down a hill to their death, there is a comprehensive career and rep system that allows you to unlock new abilities, bikes and cosmetics, look your best, play your best.
The very best parts I have saved to last, procedurally generated worlds and a punishing rogue-lite progression system, fall off your bike one too many times and you will find yourself back at the beginning, and thanks to the procedurally generated worlds, the route you perfected on you last run won’t do you much good this time, with every track/world presenting new challenges, obstacles and opportunities with each playthrough.
Luckily there are ways to earn back your precious lost lives by completing optional challenges such as maintaining x amount of air or pulling off a specific trick/combo.
While it’s not the prettiest game, Descenders, provides a level of replayability and dynamic content that is almost unheard of in the sports sim genre.
If you have any interest in downhill biking, you will get a kick out of Descenders, for those who are not already fans of the sport/hobby I suggest giving it a try on Xbox Game Pass first, to see if it’s to your liking.
Available on PC (Steam, Microsoft Store & Xbox Game Pass for PC) Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, Playstation 4*
*From August 25th 2020.
Xbox Game Pass.
Descenders, is part of Xbox Game Pass, an ever-growing catalogue of over 100 games that is a great way to try a whole smorgasbord of games, including day one access to all Microsoft first party titles, for just a few dollars a month.