Shredders Review: Get Off The Slopes
Usually, when a game is on Game Pass, I’ll mention that it’s at least worth a try. You’re not investing additional money, only time, and most games are worth at least a shot. I wish I could say that was true of Shredders. There’s a real lack of dedicated snowboarding games on the market today, and I’d love for a great indie game to fill it. Sadly, Shredders just isn’t up to the task.
That isn’t to say the game doesn’t make a good first impression. Shredders has a great look that stands out when you initially jump into a game. While there’s white as far as the eye can see, there’s an interestingly designed set of areas filled with lots of ramps and rails and lines that give you great locations to trick on. The snow shifts subtly as you move through it in a way that makes the world actually seem like it’s reacting to what you do.
It doesn’t take long, though, for issues to start showing up. Even just riding around, I almost immediately noticed significant performance issues. Frame drops and slowdown are regular intruders into your good time on the slopes. I don’t think I’ve seen a game in the new generation yet that has this consistent of performance issues.
If these were just visual issues, I’d move past it for the most part, at least. For me, performance issues are only a major issue if they impact gameplay. Sadly, here they do. Shredders is a fairly technical snowboarding game, requiring precise timing to pull off tricks. The amount of lag that’s present can often throw your timing off, causing you to under or over-rotate, for example. It helps to create an experience where the controls don’t feel like they work consistently. The developers seem to know it, too, leaving buttons that let you reset the stage entirely or jump back a few seconds at your fingertips at all times. I’m all for options and helping players undo mistakes, but you don’t leave this level of freedom unless you expect an awful lot of them.
A Strange Journey
All of this could be mitigated to a degree if there was an entertaining story mode, but that’s another area where Shredders crashes. The basic campaign has you and a friend, a duo who go by the name Shredageddon, hitting the slopes, being recruited by a group that makes gear for snowboarders to do crazy things, and post the videos online. Your duo are very down, and the game is fond of asking you to cause mayhem and destruction.
Theoretically, this could lead to a fun time, but the characters never have any real personality beyond the line they’re currently reading. The poor voice acting doesn’t help the matter, with line readings that often feel like they’re in the wrong scene entirely. The game feels like it’s trying to be funny, but the jokes consistently failed to land for me. A variety of celebrity snowboarders show up, which could be cool for fans of the sport, but they’re all decked out head to toe in gear to avoid having to actually design their faces. That means you’re really only getting their voices, and none of them seem like they have much experience acting.
The missions you’re given in this campaign get bland very quickly as well. There’s a lot of repetition of following a character down the hill, or racing them down the hill, or copying their tricks in order. A few more creative missions pop up now and then, but they’re surrounded by so many forgettable ones. You’ll also have side missions available to you to spice things up, but most of them are either wildly easy or wildly hard with very little in between. More tend to be on the easy side, at least if you’re a completionist, though the game regularly gives you poor directions, which are hard to follow. For some reason, when you select a mission, Shredders likes to dump you on the other side of the map from the starting point. It’s a choice that just leads to frustration as you have to skate across this whole area just so you can get started. If you back out of a mission, easy enough to do with the game’s UI, you’ll have to do it all over again. Considering how little there is to interact with on the way when you’re not in a mission, that’s a weird choice.
I do enjoy the snowmobiles being available as a way to help you build momentum in tough spots, a smart choice the developers implemented. Why the game takes this ability away from you for an extended period right after implementing it though I don’t quite get.
There’s still room for a big snowboarding game in today’s video game landscape, but Shredders isn’t able to fill it. While it looks nice when you’re not moving, issues with performance, controls, mission design, voice acting, story, nearly every aspect of this game is flawed. So value your time and wait for the next title in the genre.
Final Verdict: 1.5/5
Available on: Xbox Series X (Reviewed), Xbox Series S, PC; Publisher: FoamPunch; Developer: FoamPunch; Players: 1 (local), 16 (online); Released: March 17th, 2022; ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10+; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of Shredders.