Review Upcoming Release Xbox Game Pass

Descenders Review

If I had to use one word to describe Descenders it would simply be “fast”. It combines the fast downhill, trick creating action of the classic snowboarding SSX games, with the ragdoll physics and balancing act of the Trials franchise. Matched together with a Drum & Bass soundtrack that keeps the player’s heart rate high. Developer RageSquid put together a downhill mountain biking game that is very easy to the eye, with large, open landscapes the backdrop to twisting, procedurally generated downhill trails that must be completed in order to unlock new regions that bring more challenges to the table.

Starting a Career Session brings the player to a randomly generated track and once completed it takes them back to a mini-map where it is then decided which track they want to take on next. Different tracks have an emphasis on three key categories – steepness, curves and stunts. Some tracks may be steep with many stunts and few turns, and vice versa; and so how the player wants to play ultimately comes down to a personal choice. The ultimate goal of each region is to complete a “Boss Map” and progress to the next region, which can be permanently unlocked by completing one on three separate runs.


A session is begun with four lives, which will soon be realised is not enough. Fortunately, each level has a bonus objective, for example, “do two backups” or “finish the level without braking”, which will reward the player with an extra life if completed. I found that far too often I would blow by the stunts and play it safe in order to bag an extra life or even to simply avoid losing one if I could; which was quite easy as stunts can easily be avoided, being that there really is no punishment for leaving the track. Along the way there are also special levels that offer unique challenges to the ride (first person is exhilarating) and completing these levels can reward the player with bonus rep, which is essentially the players ‘level”; and with higher rep comes more opportunities to unlock better rewards.


My daughter was definitely engrossed by the game, begging for the controller any time I played. The control mechanics are quite simple – accelerate, brake, turn and lean, with the option of one extra button press in the air for some extra freestyle trick points. The downhill trails were a bit difficult for her, so I gave her the freedom of riding around in the open lobby which consists of varying jumps and mounds to let loose and practise on. Needless to say, she had a blast; simply hitting the reset button any time she bailed and I was even blessed with a proud gamer dad moment was when she unknowingly landed a backflip.


Throughout the journey of becoming a master Descender there is a small presence of other players who will often accompany the player during their single player sessions, without any player collision so there is no issue of being bullied into a stack of rocks or trees. It is hilarious to see a player in the distance lose control of their bike and exit stage left as a perfectly executed backflip is being landed, although I am certain I was more often than not the one being laughed at. Aside from being joined randomly during the players’ personal session, multiplayer works much the same as a single player session but with a vote on which direction to progress at the completion of each track. With a time limit for the remaining players to complete a track being triggered once the first player crosses the finish line, there is no chance of the game being ruined by any time wasting.


Customisation is a bit lacklustre, disappointing being that it is the sole purpose of earning rep. There is an array of cosmetic items to be unlocked for the rider and bike but there is no customisation of the character itself. Everybody in this game gets stuck as the same male character with the same body features, and while this may not be important to some, it would be a nice addition to a game where the character being played is on screen at all times. There are plenty of cosmetic unlocks, however they do not give any skill bonuses or the like, which would have been nice. Perhaps items with permanent bonuses to different aspects of riding, for example, an ability to turn quicker in the air would bring more incentive to put more game time in to this title. Cosmetics are essentially for bragging rights and for unlocking Achievements or Trophies, which can feel a bit of a grind being that they are unlocked randomly.


The sound design of this game is somewhat simplistic, with the occasional “woo” and grunt of the character being controlled. Aside from that the only other sound heard is that clicking sound the bike makes when coasting downhill. The games limited sound makes the soundtrack a main attraction. I personally enjoy the Drum and Bass genre, I have for years, but if it is not the player’s cup of tea there is no harm in muting the games volume and listening to any other music, or even the commentary of the sport of choice in the background.

I did earlier mention this game being “easy to the eye”, and it is, but do not expect any jaw-dropping graphics to bless your screen. It is an arcade-style game with arcade-style graphics, however, this does not take away from any backdrops that look like the default background of a computer. With the light of the sun glaring on to the screen at the right angles it can really look blissful.  If the player rides one region for an extended period of time the sky blends in to orange and they can find themselves riding into a beautiful sunset. Ride on for much longer, the helmet light comes on and courses are completed in the darkness of night with high visibility barriers becoming the only point of reference to a trail.

Overall Descenders is a good game. It is easy for anyone to pick up a controller and almost immediately understand it. Although track randomisation is used here, there are not enough variants to trails to make the game feel like something new has to be mastered; and although the degree of difficulty does get high in the later levels, it still feels very rinse and repeat. Somehow though, I would still end up spending hours at a time playing this game, it is just a great game to play amongst friends, or when feeling like playing something a little more easy-going.

Final Verdict

+ Simplistic, fun, fast paced action

+ Easy for anyone to play

+ Addictive

– Lacklustre customization

–  A bit “rinse and repeat”

Score        7/10

Brando for One More Game

Descenders was reviewed on an Xbox One X, is currently available for Xbox One and PC on  Game Pass and soon to be arriving on PlayStation 4 August 25, Nintendo Switch later this year (2020).

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