Let me love you!
As I loaded up one of Steep's many 'Mountain Stories' for the first time, I was excited to see what the game had in store for me. It drops me at the top of a beautifully rendered locale with a seemingly clear path down and gives me only objective: Follow the Rider.
I begin my descent down and suddenly I hear a warm, passionate voice coming through through the speakers. This mysterious voice tells me of all she has to offer - the endless snow covering her body, her captivating scenery, her ability to provide a sense of freedom and so much more. That's when it hits me that this voice is the voice of the mountain and although it may seem cheesy, this moment and in many ways this game as a whole is, more than anything, about enjoying nature. The high scores and extreme sports are good and all, but sometimes you just need to take a step back and soak in what makes these things possible.
But then suddenly, I stumble upon another realization. Where is that rider I'm supposed to be following? I spin the camera around and notice he's far away. Very far away. And not even close to the line I took to get where I am. I restart the event and notice not only is this npc incredibly slow, the line he is taking is the least intuitive path one would think to take. Finally, after constantly slowing down and changing my course to make sure I don't lose him, we reach the finish line...at the middle of the mountain on a tiny hill that connects directly to a giant wall of rock that perfectly obstructs your view of any scenery.
And that's Steep in a nutshell. Fun, creative ideas whose potential is ironically cut short by lack of imagination. Mountain Stories, for example, should be about you making your way to the bottom of a mountain in whichever you choose just so you can enjoy the ride, but because they force you to follow a slow-as-dirt NPC or hit checkpoints that often ignore some of the game's most beautiful scenery,
Races and high score events are often set down paths that will challenge your reflexes and creativity but are over by the time you start to really enjoy yourself. There is a real depth to the trick system that truly feels like it rewards skill, but then feels as if it punishes you for going to fast. There's a number of different slots to customize your rider, but gear is either very standard, boring recolors of starting gear or wacky costumes like a bright green T-Rex costume or Sumo suit with very little in between. The game has a trick course that would instantly make SSX fans feel right at home, but the number of events that take place there pale in comparison to every other location in the game.
The game encourages you to unlock new drop zones and events by getting off your board and having a look around, but you have to be within a certain distance and your wingsuit or parachute will almost always be the best way to get there. There's a lot to see, but the UI is ugly as sin.
Steep is a game full of potential in just after every way. Everything you do, you see a glimpse of how it could blow your mind, but then the harsh reality sits in and while I wouldn't ever call it bad, it's just disappointing. And that's what so frustrating. I want to love it. It gets so close to greatness each and every time, but never quite manages to stick the perfect landing.