When a game gets Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam a month from release AND in Early Access, you might wonder why you’d even bother reading this write-up about Sledders as it comes across as a no-brainer. That depends on your affiliation with the snow and/or your patience. 

A racing sandbox simulator that was released under the radar, it has already gained as much momentum as an avalanche. At the time of writing, there are 500+ positive reviews. Everyone loves it. Not me (yet). That’s not clickbait. I’ll explain.

Developed by Hanki Games and published by Bonus Stage PublishingSledders is an open world experience of snowmobile mayhem. Well, that mayhem is faceplanting in the snow and crashing into trees, as this simulator wasn’t as exciting as the trailer had me believe. Then again, I missed a fundamental and haven’t played this online either.

This isn’t a review, so it’s not a thorough insight, but there’s little to cover. There are three areas on a rather large map. I went for the mountains first and immediately regretted it. While the scenery is aesthetically pleasing, the snow is deep, and moving without sinking is a nightmare.

Sledders Early Access - Van Halen
Van Halen. Source: Steam

With a reset option for the snow immediately available, it made me wonder whether Sledders will be full of bugs, what with it being a realistic physics experience. From my perspective, I didn’t encounter a single technical fault with the game. Instead, it was the learning curve that was sending me in the opposite direction of the mountain.

Controlling the snowmobile isn’t as much a Tony Hawk Pro Skater experience as one might imagine, as you have two sets of steering controls. Ignoring the controller diagram, I jumped straight in and sunk into the powder. Playing with a controller is recommended, and I was using an 8BitDo SN30 Pro, which works great for most games aside from the lack of a haptic trigger – perfect for controlling the throttle here.

After trial and error, I realised I needed to use both the skis and the rider’s body for steering. With 20 minutes or so, I was a pro. Ish. However, jumping to the first area, the woodlands is my tip for new starters as you don’t sink as much, but there’s less to see/do, which makes this a pass for me, at the moment.

Sledders Early Access - Riding with friends
Riding with friends. Source: Steam

There’s only so much you can do in this sort of title, but the likes of SSX TrickySteep, or Rider’s Republic made the genre exciting, if a little unrealistic. Even a decent soundtrack would liven this up a bit. Then again, I’m speaking entirely from a single-player perspective, as racing with your mates seems to be the way to go if you read the comments on Sledders’ store page.

Visually Sledders Early Access is great, and there’s a heap of vehicles and drivers for customisation. Once you get the hang of the controls, the movement is fast and fluid, and the physics is a big selling point. Like BeamNG.Drive without the crash detail.

I anticipate Sledders will be able to grow a formidable community. What with the Early Access roadmap, there’s a lot planned for the game, though some of the main features won’t be available until 2025 unless I’m mistaken. I will definitely be returning to this as it has tons of potential, but for the casual snow rider such as myself, I need more excitement or more to do before I commit.