Any action sports person will tell you there’s a fine line between what represents the culture side of what they do, and how that’s not only perceived in the public domain, but also in how it’s represented. You know, the overdone cliché of it all where everyone “hangs loose”, is “bodacious” and excitedly ends every conversation with an OTT ridgey-didge. It’s kind of like the misrepresentation of gamers, or geeks in general; so-called ‘neckbeards’ who isolate themselves in an out-of-touch mother’s basement or spare room, who hand-feed their loser kid because they can’t do it themselves while grinding or farming in an MMO.
I mean, sure, the imagery comes from somewhere
, but the truth is most people across any subculture are usually pretty normal, and only mildly align themselves with the clichés of their chosen endeavours. Which is why some of the dialogue and delivery of lines in the freshly-dropped Shredders
, a snowboarding game “made by snowboarders”, feels initially a bit forced and geared towards an audience it doesn’t really need to be, and thus comes in a bit switch
to where it ought to be pretty natural
What this means is the game, which is essentially a challenge-based
snowbox title, sets things up with a lite-on story to serve as a bit of a tutorial carrot, maybe perceived as requiring a bit of colour, internally. Frustratingly this doesn’t let up nearly enough as it should though, because the meat and potatoes of the experience; the exhilaration of just riding, is lost a bit to its gimmicky content-creator-driven lean and goalset.
"Industry-wide we saw a diminished return in the action sports field, led largely by fatigue and oversaturation...”
So be warned, I feel the game leans too heavily into the more clichéd idea of snowboarding and snowboarding personality and culture, but the rest of its makeup is largely awesome, which we’ll focus on [almost] exclusively now.
Remember the Amped
snowboarding series? There were two Microsoft Game Studios
-led entries in it before it was snapped up by 2K Sports
and then essentially dwindled. 2K can’t be wholly blamed for that though, as industry-wide we saw a diminished return in the action sports field, led largely by fatigue and oversaturation. Anyway, the reason I reference it is because in light of all who have come before, Shredders most homages the first two Amped games, and it does this by embracing the ideals of style and loft. Snowboarding is meant to look and feel like a fluid forever motion; tricked out journeys to a destination long before people thought it would be cool to parkour to the shops. And here, that’s embraced to the nines.
When the studio notes that this is a game built by snowboarders, it comes through most in its embrace of style, which is entirely at odds with everything mentioned in the intro. But focusing on that best aspect of the game, Shredders feels at its most glorious when you have a field in front of you and almost no direction. It borders a little on being like Skater XL
in this way, but pulls back on being essentially a snowboarding app by retaining traditional aspects of a videogame in things such as scores, collectibles and conquerable areas (alongside its incredibly naff story and objectives setup).
"The barrier of entry will frustrate any one unfamiliar with the actual skills involved in snowboarding...”
Tricks-wise you control your boarder the way you’d expect and in conjunction with the right analogue stick you can control more tightly. Problematically, jump is assigned to a poise and release system, which makes lining up certain jumps and aspects of park and backcountry more challenging. It’s not a detriment overall, but the barrier of entry will frustrate any one unfamiliar with the actual skills involved in snowboarding. Once you’re actually successfully launched you can perform grabs with the shoulder buttons and directions on the right stick, which is also used for spins, so it can all get a bit confusing and messy early on. Moreover, good luck remembering tricks and specific grabs -- there’s a lot here and it’s a bit of a fuddle to pull them off intentionally, and even harder to do so from a comboing perspective.
In terms of presentation, Shredders works off the less is more mantra, or maybe in this case it’s minimal because it doesn’t need to be more complicated than: Area, Character, Replay, Multiplayer, Controls and Settings. Obviously embedded in each of those is more to unpack, but the game streamlines itself pretty well. It also comes with a very good soundtrack, and often with these types of games you can garner a lot of insight based on that alone. And in the case of Shredders, it’s mostly chillbeat and house that permeates the pow-pow playspace. Visually it’s hard to fault the game, and in particular its animations really stand out.
"Bonking a rail from a missed Jib can result in an awkward hug...”
Rider style is a big thing in Shredders, and in keeping with that exploration of style and loft, the game’s riders lean believably into their boards and lines. Grabs and rotations look and feel spot-on to the real thing, with the biggest disconnect being when the player simply doesn’t do what the game wants
or expects of them. In instances like this you’ll often just find yourself hanging upside down as you crash on your head, or Bonking a rail from a missed Jib can result in an awkward hug of the obstacle or anything else close enough around you. It’ll happen a lot as you get used to the controls, with the trade off being any perfectly executed launch and trick and landing looking sick enough that you just want to replicate it again.
What we wind up with in the end is a game that focuses in areas it didn’t need to, such as characters and a lite-on story, where that effort and time might have better served bolstering other aspects, leaving things feeling disproportionate. It’s not a game-breaker, but I could honestly care less about making a pretend YouTube video over just mastering a kicker or conquering big mountain drops. Still, the actual snowboarding here is more than solid, and although its learning curve is pretty steep, it’s infinitely better than the snowboarding found in Riders Republic
, which is honestly its only real competition.
There’s a franchise-in-waiting here, it just needs more than a few tweaks and hell of a lot less forced character.
: This review was written from played copies of both the PC
version of the game, as well as Xbox
utilising a Samsung 75" 8K QN900 Neo
panel and Samsung HW Q800T 3.1 Soundbar.