previews\ Oct 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm

SNOW Early Access Alpha Impressions – A Modern Day SkiFree?

SNOW Early Access Alpha Impressions – A Modern Day SkiFree?

SkiFree was a PC game released in 1991 that was incredibly simple: you ski down a mountain until the abominable snow monster eats you. There wasn’t really a goal or endgame to it; you just skied because it was fun. SNOW, an upcoming open world skiing/snowboarding game from the three man indie team of Poppermost Productions, has the same type of feel. Only, you know, with modern visuals and online leaderboards.

Before going into further depth about the game, I can’t stress this enough: it’s an alpha. Pre-alpha, in fact, though the game is currently available in Steam Early Access. There's a bunch of text that’s appearing on my screen that will go away as development continues. That said, alphas aren’t really meant to give us a final impression, but instead allow people to get a glimpse of what they can expect.

So what do I expect from SNOW? I expect a modern version of SkiFree.

The game’s control scheme should be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a PC game before: W increases your speed, S slows you down, and A and D allow you to move left and right respectively. Holding down S as you go down allows for a hard turn, which will come in handy. So handy, in fact, that I often kept moving my mouse instinctively to do a harder turn. I can’t help but wonder how smoother the game would control with the addition of the mouse or even a controller. Still, it’s early, so there will be plenty of time to get accustomed.

The main appeal of Snow will be tricks. Holding down the spacebar prepares for a jump, which begins as you release it. From there, you can do your basic spins and flips to your Tony Hawk Pro Skater-esque grabs. Performing these tricks will increase your score; I guess in that vein there is a point, unlike SkiFree just being about skiing. Performing these tricks can be a bit tricky, mostly due to the maneuverability issues discussed earlier. One of the spawn points on the mountain begins at a technical park filled with ramps and rails. There’s definitely the possibility of combos and slick runs, but I anticipate plenty of practice will be needed. Things didn’t feel as natural as they did when I played, say, Tony Hawk for the first time.

Things did feel natural when I was free roaming, however, and that’s an absolutely fantastic sign for the future. Again, I can’t stress this enough: SNOW is in pre-alpha. As it is now, it’s enjoyable to spend 15-20 minutes just messing around and going for a relaxing ski trip down the mountain. However, with enough time put into the game, it could delve into something more.

A SkiFree for a new age.

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