Preview: SNOW

SNOW is a game with a lot of potential, and right now that potential exists as promises from the developers. The premise of SNOW is a free-to-play snowboarding/skiing game that allows players to traverse enormous mountain areas alone or with friends. Currently, the game is in Early Access on Steam and buying into the game early supports the developers while giving gamers a look into what the game is slowly becoming. A snowboarding/skiing game made with the Crytek engine is immediately an eye catcher for most gamers. Using an engine for such a strange genre, one that hasn’t been taking off much as of late, is interesting in its own right. The first time you ski down a mountain, snowboarding is currently not an option, you'll understand why the Crytek engine was chosen.

Mountains in SNOW are absolutely breathtaking. It’s also immediately evident that the action in SNOW feels right. With any extreme-sport like skiing or skateboarding there needs to be a certain feel to the flow of the characters in order to make it seamless and fluid. Tony Hawk and SSX games got this feeling down perfectly and gamers of all kinds could appreciate it. SNOW has that feeling down as well, at least from the hours I spent skiing it does, and I think many gamers will enjoy that style of gaming once the full version is released.

After picking a spawn point, akin to a Battlefield game, your skier pops up on the mountain and begin their descent. Depending on where you've spawned on the mountain, you may experience a calm and relaxing ski or a trip down filled with rocky terrain and high jumps. Either way, the game gives players enough to do during their downward trip. I found it best to take my time learning on the easier slopes until comfortable enough to take on the bigger challenges. SNOW developers have promised a ton of challenges and multiplayer interactivity as they flesh the game out. Multiplayer seems like it’d be a ton of fun as skiers and snowboarders race down the mountain competing for scores or lap times.

A big chunk of SNOW’s appeal is in its licensed apparel, at least for the time being. Brand names that any skier or boarder would recognize pop up frequently and customizing your own character in the right gear is something the developers wish to build upon. Music is also supposed to make its way into the game, the current build is rather silent, and I’d be interested to see if the developers go for a licensed music feel or just an in-house soundtrack. Either way, SNOW is looking to make an interesting impact on the free-to-play market and I can see this game taking off with all it has promised.

Free-to-play is always a tricky market to delve into and while I can’t see myself paying real money for fake clothes and equipment, I can see myself paying real money for more interesting things like new tracks or new mountains. Once the game is up and running in full force I’d love to see how the multiplayer elements are executed along with how the F2P model treats its customers. The current Alpha release is $14.99 on Steam and worth a look if you’re into this style of game.