Developed by Saber Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive, Snowrunner is an off-road simulator initially released in 2020. It featured some challenging but rewarding gameplay and a gameplay loop that became quite addictive. Fast-forward to 2022 and Snowrunner is one of the more recent games to receive a next-gen update, enhancing the experience. Does it make the game more of a treat to play?
Snowrunner tasks you with taking on contracts and navigating harsh terrain while you attempt to complete them. It’s quite a challenge that will test your patience and ability to overcome whatever each map will try to throw at you. From thick mud to deep water and even snow, the game isn’t shy about how often you’ll need to try and best one of these challenges. The maps are also pretty large and failing to overcome a particularly tricky piece of terrain can result in you losing a fair amount of progress on a given contract. It’s incredibly addictive though and is sure to keep you coming back to take on even bigger jobs.
The gameplay in Snowrunner is more than just hitting the accelerator and just steering wherever you need to be though; it’s a lot more involved. You need to plan your route and if you happen to hit a patch of rough terrain along the way, you need to be prepared to either deviate from that route or be smart about how you’re going to traverse it. Try to rush and Snowrunner’s world will eat you alive.
What makes the game so challenging is its combination of the vehicles’ physics and the deformable terrain. Each of the larger vehicles, not so much the SUVs, feel bulky and weighty and controlling them is quite an experience. Trying to position a truck to attach a trailer or even just keeping the course on a muddy road feels like an effort, delivering a good translation of what it might be like to drive one of these massive vehicles.
The other part of the challenge comes from Snowrunner’s deformable terrain. Deep water will stall your engine, your vehicle will get sucked into the mud and the snow will keep you stuck in place. Even hitting a steep incline at the wrong angle can cause your vehicle to roll sideways. It can be punishing at times when things go wrong but it never really feels like the game is doing it unfairly. These feel like learning moments and will prompt you to try again until you get it right. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it got me to think very hard about how to approach the different types of situations you’ll encounter.
Completing missions will reward you with both XP and cash. The latter can be used to purchase new trucks and also upgrades for existing ones, which helps with keeping you as prepared as possible. The only downside to this is that upgrades are locked behind your driver level, so even if you have the cash to buy a particular upgrade, you’ll have to wait until you’ve levelled up enough in order to buy it. It’s a small gripe but can be quite annoying in the early going.
The next-gen update for Snowrunner makes this challenging simulator even easier on the eyes. It now runs at up to 4K and 60FPS and loads even faster. If you already own the game, the update is free and your save file is transferable from PS4 to PS5. Not only that, but the next-gen update also includes the option of turning on mods during a crossplay session, provided that they’re compatible with the next-gen console of your choice, which should make for even more interesting co-op sessions.
Snowrunner may not be for everyone but it’s a simulator that caught me by surprise thanks to its realistic physics and challenging gameplay. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes quite addictive. The choice to lock upgrades behind your driver level even though you can afford to buy it is somewhat annoying in the early going though. The next-gen update also turns an already good-looking game into a great looking one. The faster load times and higher frame rate are definitely welcomed additions. If you’re looking for a simulator that ventures into off-road territory and are in the mood for a challenge, Snowrunner might be a good fit for you.
A Review code for Snowrunner was provided to Gameblur by the Publisher.
- Challenging but fair
- Can be pretty addictive
- Realistic physics
- New updated visuals make a good-looking game look even better
- Might not be for everyone
- Upgrades are locked behind driver level