CHECK THIS GAME OUT ON STEAM: http://store.steampowered.com/app/698410
For under $10, Ski Hard: Lorsbruck 1978 is an affordable sports game, that has just hit the steam market. Minimalistic design and a casual, but difficult experience, Lorsbruck brings content to compete against other players globally, with their global leader-board. In this review, I will be judging the game for its technical design, the UI, graphics in comparison to other games in its genre, the game-play, and anything that stands out, both positive and negative.
Let’s start by talking about the UI and the first menu that pops up on the screen, when you open the game. Once the game is opened, you’re greeted by a visually appealing menu, with various eye-catching colours. The menu at first glance seems intricate and complex, but after a second look, you notice how simple it really is. Quite simply, on the left is your level menu, where you pick your level, whether or not that’s the basic missions, or the more challenging missions you unlock later on. To the right, you’ll see a leader-board which displays your personal best times, and also a global section where you can see your scores head to head with other players around the world. Once you’ve picked your level, or “run” as the game calls it, you are able to choose between 4 different skiers. Each skier has their own skills, whether or not they take longer to turn, or their overall speed is faster. Each skier has their own separate record to complete in each level. You can pick these skiers on the bottom right, underneath the leader-board.
Let’s have a look at the settings. There aren’t many settings to pick from, but due to this game being very minimalistic, there isn’t much reason to have too many options anyway. The game seems like it should run on all systems, it feels very light, so the options that are provided in the graphics sections are the likes of V sync, Fog effects, shadow distance and anti aliasing. I think these were smart options to pick, considering they’re usually things that depend on each person’s subjective opinion. I understand why you can’t meddle with options such as view distance, as a setting like that would be essential to have maxed out in a game like this. Other settings include sliders for audio, resolution and full-screen mode.
Controlling your character is easy, alongside the WASD movement, there is a feature implemented that allows you to lean while in mid-air, which allows you to take advantage of airtime, to decrease your times as it seems like you move faster in mid-air.
The game-play itself is unique because while it’s very minimalistic, the way the game plays out, I just want to keep trying again and again to beat my high score. So because of this, the replay-ability factor is pretty impressive for a game as small as this one. Personally though, I would like to have a little more control over my movement, particularly in mid-air, but the rough movement is something that gives this game that infuriating but fun feel to it. Adding more control may just ruin the unique “personality” this game has.
The movement can be sometimes unpredictable, and I can say the same about the camera. This is the primary feature that makes this game harder than expected. Sometimes you can flip randomly if you use a movement key too heavily, and sometimes depending on the surface you ski on, you need to adapt your movement otherwise you will absolutely fall. This game feels like you have to rely on luck, and trial and error figuring out the best routes and ways to move around. While this can be a good thing, it can also be a bad thing as it’s not clear whether or not this clunky movement was on purpose, or just an accident that the developer ran with. It definitely ended up as a funny result, and because of this, creates a sense of rage when playing the game. But sometimes there needs to be balance, literally and metaphorically in this game sense. Give us a way to recover using skill, or a new movement mechanic that reduces how much the player has to rely on luck (don’t remove it completely, though), and I believe the game will improve a lot.
There are many issues that I can only say are bugs, with the camera and movement. It seems that sometimes the camera can shift position, and end up either not rotating with the player, or ends up way too close to the floor, obscuring any view of the rest of the map. The camera also really punishes you if you move erratically, leading the camera to completely move about in a way that stops you from seeing anything else. After a while of playing and getting the hang of one of the Skiers, I noticed that the better I got (due to altering my movement a lot), meant that the camera punished me by acting strange.
Here’s something I encountered, that I’d suggest be changed. Due to my slow speed after restarting to a checkpoint, I found myself having to really work hard just to not hit this tree (which knocks you out, no matter how fast you hit it). Obstacles and ramps should be farther away from checkpoints, to avoid issues like this. On the checkpoint note, it seems that every time you reset, it doesn’t straighten your skier, which means that resetting sometimes can ruin your run, due to not being able to recover very well.
Moving on from my only real gameplay issue with this game, let’s talk about the graphical design. From a games developer standpoint, the playable characters models seem lazy and half way done, but it’s barely noticeable when you actually get in game. This is mainly due to the fact that the game is distracting you with it’s attractive low poly art style, and a warm and eye-catching colour scheme. Some levels switch up the overall warmth and colour, but unfortunately this isn’t the fact with every single level. If each level had its own unique colour scheme, it would absolutely be extremely nice to play. Compared to other games in its genre, it does a good job so far in graphics, but some aspects could be improved.
Despite my two points of improvement, we shouldn’t forget that at the time of this review, the game is in a beta. I’m sure later on, the game will be improved graphically, and in general design wise. For all I know, these could just be place-holder graphics. But as a consumer of video games, but also someone who is familiar with the behind the scenes of video games, I do absolutely hope that the player models are updated.
The music of this game is great, catchy and calming. It helps calm you down when you’re constantly failing a certain checkpoint. The regular sound effects are good, nothing special but not bad enough that it really matters.
I played this game at Eurogamer 2017, and I will absolutely be keeping an eye on this game’s progress. If the game progresses enough, I may even revisit this review to reconsider my points. But for now, I give this game a 5/10. It’s pretty good, but there are a few things that should be looked at, and there’s a lot of room for extra content in the future in the form of levels and challenges.
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