Snowboarding doesn’t sound like the sort of sport that’d make the transition to virtual reality and motion controls all that well thanks to its emphasis on high speed, slick spinning moves, and… well… using your feet, but developer Chuhai Labs have actually done a pretty good job with Carve Snowboarding. Sure, it’ll take some time to learn the controls and it can definitely have its finicky moments, but I’ve had a lot of fun zipping down its snowy tracks so far.
Check out a gallery of the game’s screenshots below:
The basics of Carve Snowboarding are simple: players will race down six different mountain tracks, all whilst pulling off an array of tricks or beating time-trials in order to earn medals. The tracks themselves unlock as you earn those medals, with the player having to replay some levels in order to achieve everything it has to offer. You then move on and face the next set of challenges, with some of the extras you unlock like new boards, gloves, or music tracks boosting the experience.
Let’s address the elephant in the room straight away, and that comes with the simple question of ‘how do you control a snowboard with your hands’? Well, Carve Snowboarding tries to keep it simple by assigning each end of your snowboard to one of your hands, meaning it will essentially follow the direction you are pointing. Meanwhile, jumping is performed by simply raising both hands at the same time, with the height that you lift them transitioning to the momentum that your jump will take in-game. Want to spin your board to pull off tricks? That’s a bit simpler, with the player having to hold down the trigger button on the controller in order to begin twirling the board around. You’ll also hit the face buttons on your Oculus Touch controllers in order to pull off grab tricks in mid-air, all whilst utilising some of the aforementioned manoeuvres.
“The basics of Carve Snowboarding are simple: players will race down six different mountain tracks, all whilst pulling off an array of tricks or beating time-trials in order to earn medals.”
If all of that sounds daunting to you so far, rest assured that it isn’t anywhere near as difficult as I’ve probably made it sound. That’s not to say that there isn’t a steep learning curve to Carve Snowboarding though, with my first hour with the game proving to be a bit of a mess. I could barely weave in-between trees, let alone pull off tricks, so getting into the flow of snowboarding was rough to say the least.
It only took an hour or so for everything to click into place though, and believe me, it can feel exhilarating. There’s something SO satisfying about speeding down each mountainous trail, whilst twisting and turning your way around obstacles feels incredibly rewarding. Early on in the game I dreaded having to attempt to pull off tricks, but after just a couple of hours I was hitting each jump with glee and spinning around like some snow-covered boomerang. Sure, I still have my moments where my hands end up all over the place and I make a mess of things, but it’s still mighty enjoyable.
The levels you speed across are broken down into two modes, with Freestyle focusing on pulling off tricks to earn points and Time Attack focusing on finding the quickest route through each course. Each have their strengths, but it was with Time Attack that I had the most fun; who doesn’t want to carve their way through snow as fast as they can on a snowboard whilst avoiding everything in their path, after all?
“There’s something SO satisfying about speeding down each mountainous trail, whilst twisting and turning your way around obstacles feels incredibly rewarding.”
With plenty of different objectives to complete and collectibles to find for those who take the time to explore, Carve Snowboarding offers a lot of replayability in its levels. The courses themselves offer multiple routes to take too, so it’s never as simple as following a straight path – instead, you have to find the areas that offer the most scoring opportunities or that let you get around the quickest. It makes having to replay courses a lot more bearable, especially in those moments where you’re grinding over and over again when trying to get that ONE medal which is giving you trouble. The aforementioned collectibles will help though, especially since the different boards you unlock offer varied stats that boost your capabilities in different ways. Depending on the medal you’re working towards, it’s definitely worth switching them up a little bit.
With everything about Carve Snowboarding revolving around speed, spinning, and quick-turns, it sounds a little bit like a virtual reality gamer’s worst nightmare. Thanks to the intuitive controls and slick setup though, I didn’t come across any issues in my time playing. It does help that you’re generally facing the one direction throughout, but still, it’s an extreme sport so to not feel any discomfort was a pleasant surprise.
“I was genuinely expecting to have a nightmare learning the ins-and-outs of Carve Snowboarding after my first ten minutes playing, but it just feels sublime to speed down mountains now.”
That being said, I do have my virtual reality bearings, so those who don’t might have a little bit of trouble. Thankfully, there are options like vignettes to activate, so they can ease any queasiness players might have. It is worth noting that it’s not really the sort of game that you can play sitting down though, so you can expect to have to stand if you really want to immerse yourself into the experience. You can also expect your arms to ache a LOT after a few hours play too, so maybe pace yourself a little…
In all, I’ve had a lot of fun playing Carve Snowboarding and can see myself coming back to it to grab some of the missing medals and unlock the last track in the game. However, it could have done with a little bit more variety in places, especially since it is limited to just the two game modes. A few mini-game style challenges would’ve suited the gameplay perfectly, whilst the omission of any form of multiplayer is a bit of a shame too. Hopefully it’s something that will come in future updates.
It’s hard to complain too much though, especially since the game feels so good to play. I was genuinely expecting to have a nightmare learning the ins-and-outs of Carve Snowboarding after my first ten minutes playing, but it just feels sublime to speed down mountains now. It took some time to get there, but when you do? It’s breath-taking.
The learning curve might be as steep as the mountains that you’re speeding down, but Carve Snowboarding brings with it plenty of exciting VR thrills. There’s something so exhilarating about speeding down tracks as fast as you can whilst hitting tricks, whilst the control scheme really lends itself well to the action taking place (when you get used to it).
It’s a shame it doesn’t have a few extra game modes or even multiplayer to get stuck into, but it doesn’t stop Carve Snowboarding from offering something fresh and exciting for Oculus Quest owners to get stuck into.
Developer: Chuhai Labs
Publisher: Chuhai Labs
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed), Oculus Quest 2
Click here to view the Oculus store page.