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The Sports Desk – The Downhill Rush Of Descenders

by Matthew Kato on Apr 03, 2018 at 03:09 PM

When you think of a high-flying bike on a track, you usually think of motocross, but Descenders is not a motocross game. Instead it's a dangerously fast downhill bike title in Steam Early Access that's worth checking out.

Descenders is developed by RageSquid (Action Henk) and published by No More Robots, and is planned for wide release before the end of the year. Despite its status as an Early Access title, it's already clear what makes this game stand out.

It's Not a Motocross Game 
Despite the dirt, bike, and tricks, Descenders does better because it's not a motocross title. It feels much faster than any motocross title I've played, which is perfect because Descenders conveys the thrill and terror of bombing down a hillside on the edge of control. The trails are narrow and often lined with deadly trees and even on-track obstacles like rocks or rolling hay bales, but at the same time, the game is generally more forgiving than motocross titles when you go off the track. Since you won't always be racing just to get a good time (it's now a single-player experience BTW), you're not necessarily done if you happen to go off course. That's not to say the game is easy, by any means, it's just balanced properly to encourage you to try to reach max speed.

Descenders has tricks like most bike games, but they aren't always the focus of your run (see more below). While at the moment there isn't a large list of tricks to perform – just simple flips and spins – it's pretty satisfying to nail a trick since overcooking a spin or not balancing a landing means certain death. Something I would be curious about when the game is officially released is the flips. Currently it's easy to get your rotational axes mixed up mid-air resulting in your bike becoming a tangled mess while you fall to the Earth, but then again doing a flip, for instance, wasn't impossible, either.

Pick Your Path 

I really liked the game's level structure consisting of procedurally generated sections with branching paths. Each section has a general descriptor telling you if it's more race or stunt orientated, but you never really know what you're going to get. The level ends with a boss ramp, which can be a giant jump you have to hit just right in order to nail the landing. The level as a whole is meant to be played multiple times, not just to see the different paths through it, but because if you beat the boss ramp (which is over a train in the first level) at the end three times you get a "shortcut" that allows you to skip to the beginning of the next level.

This repeating structure seemed unfair at first, but given Descenders' emphasis on deadly speed and its easy-come-easy-go attitude, having to try a level multiple times feels more like a daring one-more-try challenge rather than a design flaw. Besides, there are bonus objectives like doing two front flips in a section, for instance, that give you an extra life.

Descenders also features a freeride option allowing you to explore the world a little on your way to the finish line, and a sandbox mode is also planned that looks like it has more trials-like technical challenges.

There's much more planned for Descenders, so head over to the Steam page if you're interested, and look for more about the game before launch. Microsoft is adding the title to its Early Access-like Xbox Game Preview program around this summer, so you can check it out there as well.


Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below. 
Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato



The newest iteration of Sony's baseball title, MLB the Show 18, has released, and once again it's marred by online troubles. Even before the title went into wide release the servers were on again, off again, and now that the game's been available to everyone for almost a week, servers are still hit/miss and some people's progress with online modes like Diamond Dynasty aren't counting.

Apart from the online troubles, the game is uneven. Gameplay has improved and remains a strong part of the experience, while the grind around Diamond Dynasty, for instance, is still formidable.

Check out Reiner's review for more on the title.


A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week 

Swing Mechanics Overhauled for The Golf Club 2019 
Also check out the developer's YouTube channel for more updates on GC 2019's features and head over to the game's new website.

Tennis World Tour Coming on May 22 

Out of the Park Baseball 19 Predicts the MLB playoffs 
Last year the game correctly predicted that the Astros would win the World Series.

Pre-Registration Opens For EA Play at E3 2018 
Your chance to play the upcoming EA Sports titles.

Recent GT Sport Update Adds VR Time Trials, New Cars, Track 
Official Fanatec wheel support also included.

MotoGP 18 Announced For June 7 
The game releases first on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with a Switch version coming "shortly after," according to the teaser trailer.

Shaq Named As GM Of NBA 2K League's Kings Guard Esports Team 

2MD: VR Football Coming To PSVR