There were several times playing Snowrunner that I would get bogged in a seemingly inescapable situation and then right before I rage quit in the most dramatic fashion possible my big truck would shake loose and I could continue along my journey. This is the magic of Snowrunner, a game that is partially a 4WD simulator and also an adventure RPG.
The opening tutorial will give you a good rundown of the basics of your first Vehicle. Learning the importance of switching to a low range gear and using your winch to get you out of a tricky situation. This is not the family trip up the beach in your AWD, letting some air out of your tires and stopping for a picnic as you wait for the next camper to come along and help you out of a bog. This is probably the most in-depth vehicle simulator I’ve seen in a while.
There are three main locations that you’ll be pushing your way through and each one delivers a different experience with the terrain and weather conditions. In the starting region of Michigan, it’s mostly mountain forest areas with large paths formed by flooding that cause you all sorts of muddy grief.
The map sizes of this game are absolutely massive. It’s best seen with comparison to the previous title “Mud Runner”.
That game although it felt massive at the time only had an 8.25KM² map size, in comparison the Snow Runner world is 30km² so it’s going to take you hours to travel through the rough terrain.
The story guides you through as a part of a rescue team repairing the infrastructure and making sure that supplies reach the citizens that are cut-off from the usual routes of delivery. This is only the first phase of the content rollout as well, it’s already massive and there’s more to come in the weeks after the game's launch. You are getting into a constantly evolving world that
After that you head to Alaska, this is where all the snow is and where the game really picks up the difficulty with lakes that are iced over and deep piles of snow that will really test your skills. You’ll know what I mean when you lose control on the ice for the first time, I was in a car that aquaplaned in the wet once in real life and this is as close to that feeling as I have ever seen simulated.
The final region is Taymyr in Russia. The swampy roads go beautifully with a backdrop of overcast sky. There are many times that you just want to screenshot elements of this game to save as your desktop wallpaper as if it was from a holiday you once went on.
As you grow with experience of completing the missions you’ll be able to buy more vehicles for your garages. This is handy as when you get stuck (notice “when” not “if” ) you can switch to another of your vehicles to drive to the location and help get your other vehicle free. If you want you can also play the game in co-op mode so you can help each other out up a particularly difficult mountain range.
Throughout the game, there’s plenty of obstacles that will get in your way. From broken bridges to intense rock falls it will be up to you to call on your multiple vehicles to troubleshoot the best way forward. Remember this is a rescue effort and people are relying on you.
There are many times in the game that I got close to a frustrating rage quit. After all, using the option to respawn back to home base just felt like quitting and goes against everything the game is about. When you get Snow Runner that’s what you are signing up for. The great thing is that there are many more moments of satisfaction of completing a difficult task than there are of feeling like a failure, so your ego won't take too much of a constant beating.
In a world where it can sometimes feel like all games are variations on the same theme, it’s nice to play a game that feels truly unique and isn't about hunting the alien menace and is more about real-world actions. Especially at a time in our lives where social distancing has become isolating and we desperately want to get outside and live the life of a 4WD enthusiast. This is the game that provides that escape.
SnowRunner is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at Australian retailers.