Chris: Don’t come to my ski lodge. Genuinely, the place is horrible. The queues are unbelievable and the lifts are old and small and there aren’t enough of them. The routes I have for you are terrible, terrible routes – dull, but also dangerous. And I have a builder’s hut stuck right in the middle of the main area. Don’t know what happened there.
The thing is, I have had a brilliant time. Snowtopia is a tycoon game in early access. You have a pristine mountain and then you turn it into a business. You keep everyone happy and fill the slopes with great lines and then you sit back and watch it all work. Or watch it all fail.
But for me, the main appeal at the moment is just the setting. I love these mountains, these beautiful trees. I love trying to find a good line to put up and I love just disappearing off and moving the camera around. Snowtopia is a triumph of setting – it really delivers an alpine flavour. And it has a great name.
It also has problems, I think. Onboarding, as people like to call it I gather, is a bit unfriendly at the moment. It feels rushed and uncared for – ugly blocks of tiny text. And the camera feels a little jittery – it’s too quick to move, and it’s hard to be precise. I try to zoom in on something and I lose my little sky empire entirely and rush through the side of a hill.
These things can all be fixed, I am sure. And I hope they will be, because more than anything I am on Snowtopia’s side. My own ski lodge may be a disaster, but I want this wider enterprise to succeed. This is a world I love spending time in.
Bertie: I have a real problem here: I don’t want to build anything! It’s like a lesson in how humans can mess up a gorgeous vista by putting metal things everywhere. Here’s a metal thing with wires on. Here’s a metal shed to do one of a variety of things. I don’t want them! No matter what I do, I can’t make them look lovely. I can’t make them look at one with their surroundings, because what possibly could? This is a serene, pristine mountainous land. This dilemma has genuinely taken me hours to get over!
Actually, full exposure – and promise you won’t laugh? – I completely forgot ski lifts were a thing. I’ve never actually been skiing you see. And I feel like Snowtopia is laughing at me a bit because of it. It’s not being mean on purpose – it’s the least mean game I can imagine (it’s so gentle and forgiving I’m not sure you can actually do anything wrong) – but it’s mean in the way a bunch of friends are when they talk about skiing, and you’ve never been. I just don’t understand it. I don’t know how ski lifts are positioned. I don’t know how slopes work, or where it’s best to put them. I just want to make a deathrun out of a huge mountain and maybe kill a few skiers, let my mind run riot. I don’t want to learn the basics.
That’s where Snowtopia really stalls for me at the moment: the basics. It shows you a gorgeous playground with seemingly endless scope and then stands in the way of it and says, ‘Whoa no not yet! Let’s just take those skis off again.’ Of course, you’ll clip them back on eventually, you just need a bit of perseverance, but referring to a help index every few minutes is not particularly fun.
Nevertheless, I’m charmed. Snowtopia is a very pleasant place to be, jutting metal be damned. And if it can sort out its own beginner slopes (which is exactly what this early access journey is about, after all) it could be a lot of fun indeed.