The aptly named Snow is a game all about snowboarding and skiing. Who would have thought? It’s all about skill and precision; you are always going in one direction, but it’s how you get there that counts. Poppermost Productions’ first outing gives you a new way to play this much maligned genre.
Playing the beta on PS4, I was able to get to grips on the upcoming Snow that aims to be “the first free-to-play, open world, winter sports game.” That’s the unique selling point for Snow. Not only is it a game that gives you the tools to rush down the mountain in style, it allows you to do it with others.
I can’t remember the last winter sport I have played since SSX Tricky. Other than the recently-released (and seemingly disappointing) Mark McMorris Infinite Air, it’s a very under-represented genre on current gen. The terms “open world” and winter sports are not something that most gamers, including me, would instantly put together. It doesn’t sound necessarily absurd, but it isn’t the first thing you think of either. Skiing and snowboarding tracks all have one thing in common: they are down a mountain. They are one-way trips. So getting around open-world style could be quite tricky (…not SSX Tricky).
However, when playing Snow, it’s quickly apparent that traversing the map isn’t a problem at all. Exploring around the mountain is actually quite easy, and the quick ski-lift makes the game quite fun to navigate. There are also a lot of open-world tropes that find their way into Snow, one being discoverable waypoints that you can jump to and from. Each mountain has several different paths down to the bottom and several little places to discover. I never thought that I would spend a lot of my time in Snow exploring – but that is exactly what you do.
Snow very much feels like a blank canvas for you to enjoy your game in whichever way you like. It doesn’t tell you to do one thing or another but instead gives you all the tools to create your own experience. This is at its best when you are playing online. Multiplayer is another big pull for Snow: the fact that you can navigate the digital mountain together and challenge each other to who is the best snowboarder or skier is massive, but it functions differently to move online experiences in that you set your own challenges. It is an experience that is hard to describe but better to explore for yourself.
Customisation allows you distinguish yourself from others online. You can change your appearance and buy new clothes and equipment to use on the slopes. You earn virtual money to update your kit by levelling up on the mountains and finding new areas on maps, or – since this is a free-to-play game after all – by buying in-game currency using your real-world moolah. I managed to buy myself a nice pink bobble hat; fancy snowmobiles and other modes of transport will require a lot of time and effort to earn enough funds – or a deposit of your pocket money.
The actual gameplay of Snow is solid. It tries to be more realistic than its few counterparts, making the game a tiny bit slower but more of a simulation. That said, it’s not all too serious; there is a still a small part of necessary absurdity that keeps the pace up and makes the game actually fun to play.
The fact that Snow is free to play makes it an incredibly interesting prospect. It allows for a new type of multiplayer and a new type of experience that is so far alien to this genre of game. Most importantly, these ideas seem to work – and you will be able to try them for free.