Insurmountable result: a clever roguelike on mountaineering

Everything I know about mountaineering came from a day of team building in which management hired a banker who had climbed Everest to tell us how he left most of his group to die for reach the top. It was not an admission of guilt. Apparently, there comes an altitude where stopping becomes so dangerous that it condemns all loiterers. You continue or exhale in place. As the editor of a failing games magazine, I saw no reading of the metaphor where I wasn’t the fighter and my website peers were not being told to leave me. Hilariously, it wasn’t the darkest time of the day (he was a nervous guy in IT yelling “Show me the money!” To earn pound tokens or similar bullshit) .

What stood out to me was how an ascent can be all or nothing, something that you commit to until you have a murderous anecdote or end up like another grain of colored polyester in Rainbow Valley. In this sense, Insurmountable’s decision to equate mountaineering with a survival roguelike is a shrewd one: a life, a race, while facing the random luck or misfortune of an unpredictable landscape. It’s not a polished hobby where you count your progress for another day, and in that sense doing or dying a roguelike race feels more honest than the rolling Death Stranding simulations or the myriad of VR climbing walls. currently available. Just as a concept, I want to celebrate the intelligence of it all.

It works by smashing the mountain into hex tiles, which has the odd side effect of turning each peak into a towering mound of Giant’s Causeway basalt or something from the upcoming Halo game. Tiles are rock, snow or ice, which affects the stamina drain of their crossing, and have varying degrees of stability, which increases the chances of a crash occurring. Then there’s the issue of the height difference as well, with a high endurance cost to climb higher cliffs, enough to encourage you to take smaller, more forgiving steps instead. Well, as long as you don’t mind taking a longer route, which means more time in a place that drains your heat, sanity, and at greater height, oxygen.

I’m still surprised at how difficult it gets here – that it’s called the death zone should have been a clue.

It’s when one of those four meters drops to zero that Critical Events start firing with regularity, beating that all-important health bar. From my races it splits into a set of two halves. At lower levels, the riskiest stat is stamina, as it requires sleep to replenish, and the mountain nap turns you into a human popsicle if you don’t have a cave or tent, which doesn’t. has only limited uses. You also don’t want to go to caves during the day – you want to sleep at night, as everything flows faster and the mountain is visually obscured – or in warmer weather, which should always be tapped for a few extra hours. without being worried. Trek.

On normal difficulty, this is reasonably forgiving, if not relaxing, as you soak up the surrounding stillness and progress smoothly between the narrative event tiles. These allow you to play for time or stamina for the chance to uncover an XP-rich nugget of history or remove a thermos of coffee from the hands of the dead. Come on, make that sociopathic banker proud. With the right perks – unlocked as you level up – and the lucky gear dropping, it’s pretty easy to find resupply loops on this gentle climb, letting you loot every story tile, accumulate thermos. (thermi?) And oxygen tanks for difficult heights.

Hit the death zone, however, where the air thins, and the oxygen meter finally kicks in, and with it a complete change of mindset. Now every nap or detour sucks precious O2 out of your tank and, unless you’ve had luck in several spares lower down, it’s going to push you to riskier shortcuts and bad luck is on your mind. ‘accumulates only from there. Even on a well-prepared climb, with generous gear drops and your desired perks, I’m still surprised at how difficult it gets here – that it’s called the death zone should have been a clue. It’s a really effective drama and instills a good dose of fear for future races.

I am less convinced by the overall structure of the campaign. You tackle three summits in succession, with permanent “scars” of weakness between climbs. These injuries seem random and can be ruinous: several times I have had oxygen overcharge while moving, which is essentially a death sentence. Just as an investment in time, we are talking about a few hours of careful boating which are easily destroyed by a stroke of fate on the last peak. I think you rack up enough trauma with each climb that the ability to restart the second or third peak on death is still a decent challenge, or at least a more beginner friendly level.

Part of the problem is that success is so closely tied to the orderly exploitation of safer territory. This allows for naturally slow runs and fairly uninspiring runs when played effectively. What I would give so that your climber automatically equips himself with the most suitable clothing for each tile. As it is, you find yourself in some ridiculous scenarios where you re-equip tile by tile to optimize – perhaps not essential on normal difficulty, but a need to micromanage on anything above that. That’s a lot of tricky inventory icons that move every ten seconds. An idea that should certainly have been abandoned in the snow.

A screenshot from Insurmountable, showing a narrative event in which the player suffers from diarrhea on a mountainside.

I think the game could also be more explicit about how its own route suggestions optimize time versus stamina use – before I understood this simple fact, my runs were repeatedly cut short. . Get into the habit of tracing tile-to-tile paths and your success speeds up. Of course, now I told you and they don’t need to patch it. Although, on this point, the team seems receptive to criticism and eager to polish; already since release they’ve added more event tiles (much needed, i was sick of seeing the same goat over and over again) and given character classes some unlockable skills for the start of a race – a much needed foot.

It is only the journalist who comes to the mountain without a tent.

Oh, and a little note on the characters. I like the one of the three – adventurer, scientist and journalist – there is only the journalist who comes to the mountain without a tent. It perfectly captures the writer’s state of mind. Frankly, I’m amazed that not all of their inventory is made up of Kendal Mint Cake. This is all I brought with me when my Scout troop visited Snowdonia. I hiked for about an hour before I got tired and fussed over and could get on the troops minibus.

So, again: I’m probably not the best person to assess the physical ins and outs of a mountaineering game. But as a consumer of pop culture derring-do tales and a member of the audience horrified by this insensitive motivational speaker, I dig ByteRockers in an attempt to find the right genre to suit a singular and intense mindset. life-threatening hobby.