Shredders is made from a conjoining of two development studios: I-Illusions and Let It Roll, to become FoamPunch. Not only do they make games, but they snowboard in real-life and adapted that passion into their first game together. It evokes nostalgia without relying on it as a crutch, Shredders is a modern snowboarding game with a simcade take on controls and visuals. FoamPunch’s first outing isn’t everything I wanted, but it’s off to a good start. We’ve been spoiled by some snowboarding games over the years. And Shredders manages to be enjoyable, even if it is less than fully featured compared to its contemporaries.
Shredders kicks off by putting you into the boots as one of two IRL snowboard YouTubers who are filming new content for their not very popular channel. The head of a promotion spots you out there doing your thing, and then hires you for some work. Suddenly you’re making friends with real-world snowboarders, performing their tricks, and going on a journey full of fame and popularity. While playing, it evokes the semi-realism of Amped 2, with the style and zaniness of Amped 3 that never goes full in either direction, falling short of greatness. Shredders takes place on an unnamed mountain, to its benefit. This let the FoamPunch team be as creative as they wanted for building a mountain that was crafted just for snowboarding, and it works really well even if some other element don’t.
Tricks are all performed by the both the left and right analog sticks, with the left controlling what the body does, and the right for the snowboard. There’s modifiers, grabs, and other things to do, but understanding the basics takes just a little bit of your time. If you’ve played games like skate or other snowboarding games, you’ll get acquainted quickly. The game has a concept of flow whereby speed and style will give you the most points for your tricks. As you play, your line score and total score are tracked separately based on what you are doing. Shredders balances an arcade and simulation that feels right, and the physics are forgiving, but more often than not you’ll be crashing hard. When you do, you have the option to reshred which takes you back in time a couple of seconds to course-correct. Alternatively you can reset, or restart your run. What the game doesn’t do, is just let you get up – you have to roll back or restart; It’s a very odd choice to say the least.
If you’re playing to advance the story, the mission structure contains main and secondary objectives. The main objectives must be completed in order to proceed, while secondary objectives are bonuses but add to your total rating when you cross the finish line. These are represented by green smiley faces, you get one for just doing the main objective, and all three if you do all secondary objectives as well.
There are seven distinct areas of the mountain to explore and compete. The final area is playable credits as you carry out the compete in the final mission. There’s an impressive 67 events to take part in, each with their own unique challenges to overcome. The developers say it takes about six hours to complete the game, or about twenty hours to see and do everything. I was able to complete all events, with at least half of them with the best rating in about four hours. There’s no difficulty select, so some missions were a lot easier than others, and in many cases I was able to cheese the scores or use in-game mechanics to my advantage. There’s an in-game map that lets you replay missions, or spawn at specific locations. While some events take place at night, you aren’t ever able to pick the weather or time of day. There’s some really great setpieces in the late game where weather and time of day is used really effectively, and it’s such a shame you don’t get any option to set it to your preference.
While you don’t get to drive any vehicles, you do get to hook onto a snowmobile to help get you up to speed or take you to your favorite destinations. In one area of the mountain, a little village has winches that will propel you towards jumps to give you the right amount of speed and air to do insane tricks. There’s also a drone that you can use to scout for collectibles, and even use it as a personal teleporter to the place of your choosing. Lastly, the replay editor is an in-game tool that will let you put together a dream clip with the perfect camera angle.
One of the many highlights in Shredders is its electronic, chill soundtrack that always deliver and doesn’t ever distract. Conversely, the voice acting is awful with poor line reads as if they’re bored or stoned. There’s sound clips that were made from different sessions and inconsistent quality. The good ones sound like they were recorded in a booth, but the ones that weren’t seem like they were made at-home, complete with an echo. This is because you’ve got real snowboarders lending their voices and moves to the game like Leanne Pelosi, Jill Perkins, and Zeb Powell – just to name a few. And these professional snowboarders are not voice actors, I get it, but it could have been better. One detractor is that there’s cutscenes, but in every one of them both the player and NPCs faces are covered up. On one hand this is a mountaintop and people would be bundled up, but it’s clear that something is amiss..
As you complete events with varying degrees of success, based on the number of smiley faces you earn, you’ll unlock new gear to outfit your character with. Since your character is non-gendered, you’ll have everything available to you without compromise. With real brands like DC, Oakley, The North Face, Vans, and Volcom, you’ve got a varied collection to mix and match with.
Shredders is an awfully lonely experience to have. There’s not a single NPC or live player on the powder with you for the single-player. You are auto-connected to multiplayer, but prior to release this felt very isolating. There are many missions throughout the game where there’s others to compete against. Why this doesn’t happen outside of those events is perplexing. That said, I wish there were NPCs just roaming the mountain (not enough to get in the way) until live players get into the game. Though I can see an argument to be made that many prefer this to something like Riders Republic where there’s NPCs and real people everywhere. How much this actually a problem is going to be subjective, but for me it felt too much like snowboarding at the Fortress of Solitude.
Shredders is pure, focusing on snowboarding while still being entertaining, and for that it succeeds. It’s something that’s never too demanding or too easy on you, and you can just perform tricks to your heart’s content, or work your way through the campaign. The game is available on PC and Xbox, and I do recommend you check this out on Xbox Game Pass if you have it. FoamPunch has a lot of ambition and desire to make something great, and while it does miss the mark a bit, it’s something you should still play. Shredders is a gratifying game that feels a little undercooked, even though the roster of pro-snowboarders that talk in the game sound totally baked.
A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes