I haven’t played me a bike racing game in quite a long time. I have very fond memories of the first time playing Excitebike and graduating to Matt Hoffman’s BMX and of course the Road Rash series; but since then, I couldn’t tell you the last time I got on a virtual bike. When I was contacted to review Descenders, I decided that I’d dust off my riding skills and get back into the race. Descenders is what’s described as an extreme downhill freeriding game. What’s that mean exactly? Well, you pick out your characters, get on a bike, and literally hit the dirt road as fast as virtually possible. Right out of the gate in the training you’re learning to blaze down the hills and perform tricks. If you’ve played any bike simulations in the past, there’s not much of a learning curve here. I had my Xbox controller hooked up to my computer and used the triggers to speed up and slow down and the right and left toggles to move and perform the trick. Using all the buttons together in some sort of combination would get me to do a trick. Standard stuff there but I didn’t need this game to reinvent how you do a biking simulator. Remember when we had all gotten used to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater controls and along came Skate? You had to completely reinvent the way you gamed and while the end result was something magical and far more complex, there’s a lot of people who fell off of skating sims because of that reason. Descenders keeps it simple and the complexity comes from the button combinations. Outside of gameplay is a rich landscape that you’re biking through. From downhills, dirt roads, through the woods and over desert dunes; there’s a lot of different environments to race and crash your person through. This game is in Early Access and it’s taking the Battlegrounds route of constantly being updated based on user experiences. With that said, it’s great to have the varying environments but they are not as polished as they could/will be. None of the game is particularly polished when you come down to it. I was speeding down the hills like a banshee with very little control over my character. I felt as if the slightest adjustments to my control would have massive effect over the direction I’d go in. Once I got in the air, things did get better though. I could perform a move and it was smooth; but once I was on the ground it would go into a blazingly fast animation of me trying to not run my character off the road. Overall, the game was a fun time and I’m looking forward to seeing how it gets improved over time. Once the downhill mechanics are ironed out a bit more for speed vs control, I think the user’s experience will be greatly enhanced. The graphics will only get better but I’m a big proponent on gameplay over graphics. This isn’t a 2K game where I NEED to see that the sports player looks like the actual human. I just want to be entertained, listen to a fun soundtrack (which it is by the drum & bass company Liquicity), and lose myself in the virtual world for a couple of hours. At this point, Descenders is almost there and I’m confident that the team at RageSquid will get there. Descenders, the extreme downhill freeriding game from development studio RageSquid, will launch on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux on TODAY for $24.99 / £19.49 / 22.99 euros. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AqS1YdN6n8