Game Review: STEEP

Mcgillacuddy Okay I'm back with a review after an extremely long hiatus from writing. I've been visiting the site occasionally but I haven't done anything major here in quite some time. I going to try to get back into reviewing the things I love, which are video games, anime, movies, and maybe music albums. I had my glory days back in 2016, and since then, I've been extremely busy with moving from job to job. Although now, I am ready to finally be settled in a single career path, which means that I can be much more focused on what to do. As far as me being on this site, I should probably get back into what made me gain a decent popularity in the first place: my reviews. I've tried doing different things multiple times with posts in an attempt to get me fully interested in writing on this site again, but nothing seemed to work out. So, I think it's time to start getting back into some reviews. I've played tons of games, watched a lot of movies and anime, and listened to a lot of albums, so I should have plenty of things to review. I'm going to try to get myself back into a groove here. Let's just see how things will turn out. For now, let's start with a game review that I've recently been playing. It'll be a fresh start...

Thoughts and Review:

So if you've never heard of it, STEEP is an open-world, winter action sports game that was released by Ubisoft back in 2016. At the time, I directed a lot of my attention towards the game and for a lot of reasons. One, I miss snowboard games so much. In fact, I think this era is extremely deprived of any action sports games in general. The last good snowboard game I played before this was the SSX remake in 2012. Even though that game was extremely different from the old-school SSX games and had a very arcadey focus, the game's style was excellent. It was nothing but high-octane action with a killer soundtrack, and even though it was crazy, it worked well as a snowboarding game. I missed that era when action sports games had a very strong fanbase at the time, and it was totally refreshing to finally see a new one come along. The second reason this game caught my attention was that the foundation of it was heavily promising. The game is open-world and doesn't focus on only snowboarding, but it also includes ski, paraglide, and wingsuit. It simply looked like a dream-come true, especially for a winter sports games because this is the first time I've seen a company take a stab at making this genre open-world.

The problem I had with actually buying the game was the reviews from people and critics. Unless I am a massive fan of a certain game series or if I feel there's a game that's extremely promising, I always check people's reviews on a game before I decide to buy. I've heard so many mixed reactions from others, most of them being negative. The main problem people have with this game and the primary flaw that can easily affect any open-world game, is that after playing it for some hours, you begin to lose interest in it. Me having a long history of games presenting this flaw, I've steered clear from this game at release and decided to wait until the price dropped. Fast forward to late January 2019 and I find the game is up for a lovely price of only $15. This was a great time to buy the game, because even if I didn't enjoy it, I knew I only spent a few bucks on it so it wasn't a huge loss. Overall though, I must say that, considering the price drop, I am satisfied with the experience.

The first thing I should talk about with the game is the graphics, visuals, and environment. One thing I can say about this game is that the visuals are surprisingly great. They aren't heavily detailed, but they honestly didn't need to be because the world build itself already provides plenty of beauty. This game is loaded with diverse and versatile mountains ranges and peaks, each of which can take forever to explore. Each mountain also has different personalities. Some are rather tame and filled with fun parks and areas to just cruise in, and then there are others that are heavily extreme and dangerous to traverse down. The whole world itself is large, breathtaking, and diverse, and you have the freedom to just throw yourself down these crazy peaks. The extremity of STEEP just adds to the aura of freedom that the game needed to provide, and it does a great job of immersing you further.

Ubisoft also did a rather great job with the gameplay and mechanics of the game. STEEP includes 4 different sports you can take part in: snowboarding, skiing, wingsuit, and paragliding. You're definitely going to be playing with snowboarding or skiing most of the time. The mechanics of these sports are similar to the Skate series except in snowboard and ski form: it's a balance of realism and arcade. At first it will feel a bit awkward to control you'll quickly get the hang of it, and soon you'll understand how the G-forces work in the game. The wingsuit sport is also rather fun to play as well. It's not as versatile or fun as snowboarding or skiing but it's still a very exhilarating sport. Soon, you'll be threading needles through rock formations at insane speeds. Paragliding is the sport that you'll most likely play the least. Now, the only problem I have with the gameplay is the crashing. One, the ragdoll mechanics are extremely overblown. When you crash, your character will fall and roll around for ages. It doesn't matter if he/she's going at 5 mph, they'll just keep rolling around. I understand that they wanted to put some funny ragdoll physics in the game but this is just too much, honestly to the point where it can be pretty irritating. Another thing is that the trees in this game are the most annoying things you'll encounter. I swear this game makes me want to cut down every tree in existence. If you so much as wipe your ass against a tree, you crash. Another weird thing is that sometimes your character will clip through trees or even hit trees that aren't even there. This doesn't happen often but it's annoying when it does, especially if you're in the middle of a race. Overall, though, the mechanics of STEEP are very solid. It's just the trees that tick me off.

Now the primary gripe I have with this game is the progression system. This game doesn't really have one, because the only things you can unlock in the game are clothing and board designs. That's about it. All areas in the game are unlocked. All features are unlocked. The only unlockables in the game are cosmetics. The reason I have a gripe with this is because, not only is it not a very fulfilling progression system, but it also keeps you from WANTING to play the game. The idea behind a game is to win levels to unlock new features and levels. A game is supposed to have a goal. When you get rid of that goal, play time shortens because you quickly run out of fulfillment. And you know what this leads to? That's right. That flaw that hurts many open-world games: boredom arises. When there's nothing else left to do in the game except ride around, the game just gets boring. Unfortunately, that flaw affects STEEP. Once you're played it for a few hours, you'll be ready to play something else. Although, I do enjoy returning to this game to play for a bit. STEEP is a great time-killer, but that's really all I treat it as.

The last thing I always talk about in my reviews is the soundtrack. I love the music choices they made for this game. It has a mixture of pretty much everything, like Ambient, EDM, Hip Hop, Rock, Metal, Indie, and others. Another crazy thing about the soundtrack is that it seems like the game always plays certain tracks at the exact right moment. For instance, if you're cruising along a gorgeous mountainside just admiring the beauty, a lo-fi Ambient or Indie track will play in the background. If you're going hard speeding down a dangerous slope, a fast pace Rock or Metal track will play.

Final Verdict 7.5/10:
So here's the thing about STEEP: it's a very good game but only depending on what you're looking for, not to mention it's also for a very specific audience. If you're simply looking for exhilarating gameplay and letting yourself go wild in a breathtaking open world, this is 100% your game. Although, if you're looking for a satisfying progression system and promising extra content to extend playtime, this will disappoint you. I myself find this game to be great for what it is. It's been a long time since we've had a good snowboarding game, and it just makes me happy to see a game like this come around. Is it a good game? Yes, it is, but I wouldn't say that it's worth a full price of $60 or even $40 for that matter. I got this game when it was on sale for only $15. I'd say that would be a good price to buy it for, and if you're looking for a good action sports game, you'll definitely enjoy the experience.