Enjoy my first-look at Carve Snowboarding on the Oculus Quest 2. You can buy this game from the official Oculus store for £14.99 here.
This is one of the first snowboarding titles to make it onto the Quest, with many alternatives also available via AppLab. Carve Snowboarding is worthy of your attention, though, as it has some pedigree developers under its wing that also brought us 1080° Snowboarding on the Nintendo 64, all those years back – one of my most favourite snowboarding videogame titles across all generations, alongside the first SSX (the rest were garbage), Amped 3 on Xbox, Steep from Ubisoft, and an honourable mention goes to Cool Boarders on PlayStation 1 and Horace Goes Skiing on the Spectrum.
1080° Snowboarding on the N64 was a snowboarding game that many titles tried to copy, yet most of these games face-planted into the snow and couldn’t quite nail the feel of snowboarding in the videogame. Fast-track to today, and its developer Chuhai Labs have done it again for the VR realm. I have tried a few snowboarding titles on Quest and none have come that close to the feeling of sliding down on an icy slope or in deep powder as well as Carve Snowboarding has managed to achieve.
There are six locations or courses to play in the game, each with Time Attack (race to the finish) and Freestyle (score points) modes. Both modes soon become very challenging as each location requires you to earn medals before they are unlocked. This can feel like you got snow in your pants, as scoring points in Freestyle can be very challenging without many retries, as is trying to get a platinum medal in Time Attack mode. If the later levels unlocked with a total medal total than just from the course before, that would make it a little less punishing and more accessible for those struggling to compete in the game and just want to visit and chill out in some of the later locations.
I found executing the tricks in Freestyle quite hard to score big enough points to earn medals, so I stuck with the Time Attack in this video. I need to practice grabs and pick the best routes down each course to give me big points in order to get to any of the highly demanding scores that are required to earn medals in this game. Grinding also took some time to get right, requiring just a smaller jump than you’d expect to get onto the rails.
I recommend that you try and partner this game with some knuckle strap grips. Removing the need to grip the controllers you get even more immersed in controlling your board down the slopes, as it’s just your body and arms swinging that makes you turn and that really makes it feel very much like snowboarding in real life.
Visually the game looks decent on Quest 2. I would have thought we could have seen more geometry and animations in the Quest 2 version. More particle effects, giving that sensation of going through deep snow, sunlight glistening off ice crystals of the snow. I love if you hit an object or tree your goggles fill with snow that you can wipe off with your hands. So far many of the levels were all snowcapped, yet I would have liked to see some lower altitude boarding through green pine forest trails to add some variety to the course visuals. I would have also like to see more life at the end of the courses, such as pine lodges, moving ski-lifts and aprés-ski bars.
The sound in the game mirrors the visuals in the game. There is a great tracklist that enhances your ride down the slope whilst offering a variety of music tastes, however, I would have liked some more electronic or liquid drum and bass tracks in this mix. The sounds of the environment add some level of immersion, wind blows past your ears as you get to speed or jump for air, there’s also a wolf and critter noises too just to freak you out at times, but sadly you don’t see them. The deep powder effect sounds like fireworks but if it was less repetitive or more varied it would sound better.
Its developers have achieved such a chilled-out experience, yet also thrilling and competitive at the same time, once you unlock a fast board and you nail a few paths and grinds along the way, all in time with some snowboot-tapping beats, this game never fails to pull-off that ‘one more go’ feel.
Let’s hope the game brings great successes for its developer Chuhai Labs, and we see further enhancements and modes added into the game. I’d love to uncover a halfpipe, some X Games-like Slopestyle and some fun snow park locations, as well as some multiplayer support and maybe a few fantasy-based locations and events too – avoid the Yeti, anyone?!
If you’re looking for some chilled slope action in VR, that’s intuitive, life-like, and easily accessible yet challenging to complete, then Carve will certainly not disappoint you.