On the first appraisal, The Ramp seemed like it would be another Lonely Mountains Downhill, my GOTY for 2020, but that would be an unfair assessment having played it.
Sure, the simple, understated visuals are comparable, and here less is more. But other than the sporty side of things and gaining momentum on wheels, the similarities end – unless we’re counting the crashes too. You see, The Ramp is very much a chill game, and despite the increasing number of achievements added each time I play it, it’s not remotely competitive, other than pushing yourself. Should you be so inclined.
Defined by Hyperparadise as a digital toy, which is a very good analogy, you have a choice of four locations to practice your skills. There is zero incentive to push for a place on the leaderboards (there aren’t any), unlocking new skateboards or being able to do a 900º with your eyes closed. Been there, done that in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater back on the <swoon> Dreamcast.
The Ramp Review
So why are you playing The Ramp? It’s entirely up to you as you have the creative freedom to play as you like, for as long as you want, and as frequent as you deem fit. Not remotely a disappointment, but I found myself playing this in short bursts at a time rather than for long periods. As all of the courses, custom characters and tricks are available from the outset, the purpose of this game, for me, is escapism, enjoyment and damn right chillin’.
There are two controls, besides steering. The first is holding down A at the right time to pick up speed; the second is the right stick to hold in a direction to perform a trick. It really is that simple, and anybody can pick this up and be in the air in seconds. Do note that stringing together a series of tricks like a pro takes time to master but time well invested.
You’ll note I referred to using a controller here. While playing on the keyboard is feasible, it’s much better and flows more on a controller. During an update, my controller stopped working, and it made a difference to my experience. Again, it’s perfectly doable, so probably down to preference, but the developer does recommend using one.
In many ways, The Ramp isn’t a conventional game as it doesn’t have the traditional objectives such as getting a trophy, scoring the best time or pulling off a killer combo. Instead, the aim is to entertain and for a place to hang out on a vert ramp or drained pool without having to look at the timer or feeling any pressure to chain 30+ moves together in one go. Though you’re welcome too.
This review is almost going the way of a Buddhist analogy of being a little vague and perhaps contradictory, but the skinny is, this is a great little title to have permanently in your library to dip into anytime you get a moment. We could even piggyback on the Buddhist notion that this is almost Zen-like. Even when faceplanting into a wall for not adding enough speed to a jump or underestimating my momentum and heading off course into the floor wasn’t frustrating. You don’t lose any modifiers; you haven’t failed, just start another run or come back later.
What I’m trying to say is The Ramp is an excellent experience that arguably has more longevity than some of the big RPGs or visual novels, as once you unlock everything, that’s it. Here the door is open, and you’re free to do as you please and can continue to do so for as long as you like.
To draw upon Buddhism again and contradictions, in the time I’ve been experimenting, the game has gone from no achievements to three, then 12. Crash 100 times, perform a 1080º and so on. Perhaps this is undoing that non-competitive element, but equally a welcome addition as it pushes you out of your comfort zone if you’re a completionist like me.
And, before winding this down, I have to say that the music is perfect. It won’t be winning awards for innovation or changing your life, but the beats are faultless and are harmonious with the free flow of the game. To tell the truth, I have the game running in the background while typing as it’s perfectly suited to being in the zone.