When Ski Lifts Go Wrong is not the name of some sadistic show shown on television after the watershed (although it absolutely should be) it is, in fact, a game. About, well, when ski lifts go wrong. Hopefully, your ski lifts won’t go wrong and you’ll ace the game. Did I mention ski lifts?
They’ve all died again, haven’t they? You can feel your conscience saying form your shoulder. You see When Ski Lifts Go Wrong puts that age-old “but did you die?” argument into the front of your vocabulary, as some poor soul staggers over the finish line, having been thrown around like a discarded crisp packet in a hurricane on his way to the top of the slopes.
The core premise is honestly fantastic. You’re tasked with building ramps, bridges, gondolas, and of course, ski lifts. One slight error in your careful engineering and you’ll be finding out exactly what happens When Ski Lifts Go Wrong pretty bloody quickly. You’ll watch the structure buckle and strain under the weight of its operation as you’re praying for that little wooden support to stay together long enough to get the poor test dummy across the gully below. From the start, the title oozes with charm and character.
The building is deceptively simple. You’re not overwhelmed with materials or styles. You have a limited palette to play with, consisting of planks, logs, wheels, rope, foundations, supports, and jump pads. The complexity comes from the challenge of the environment. Some levels will give you a series of preset foundations to work from, where you may or may not be able to get away with using these alone. Other levels will give you some deceptive obstacles that you think you’ve cleared until the slack of the cable comes into play, and you send a gondola crashing into a boulder.
Trial and error really is the name of the game here. With achievements for sending countless numbers of unsuspecting passengers to their bloody demise, it’s rather clear that this is the sort of reckless behavior that When Ski Lifts Go Wrong encourages. Zero complaints here. This really is one of those titles were finding the unlikely solution is the most fun and leads to the creation of some structures that wouldn’t pass a visual inspection let alone practical. Thankfully, the health and safety brigade don’t exist here, so you’re more than welcome to send as many poor souls to their deaths as you wish.
For a title that sounds so simple, there really is a nice variety to the gameplay. It’s not always building a monotonous machine for ferrying people about the slopes. Sometimes, you get tasked with getting a skier from A to B under their own steam, with the help of a lovingly crafted bridge over a perilous canyon. Of course, while a bridge might seem like the logical step, it’s a giant ramp you’re going to end up building, sending some poor soul into space before praying they land on their skis in time to cross the finish line.
Adding to this, you also get to play with snowmobiles, which have a very similar effect, just with a bit more go. Come to the later levels, you’ll scrap the snow theme entirely, swapping skis and snowboards for mountain bikes and dirt bikes, getting riders through some perilous terrain with as few trips into the trees as possible. It makes for a nice level of variety in what could well have been a very repetitive title.
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong introduces you to its mechanics and materials in the first chapter of the game, Which will probably be a little too hasty for most. It would have been nice to see a few more levels between to allow players to get used to the new additions, as right now it’s a little quick to give you something new. It also means that other than the change in surroundings and the addition of the bikes, there’s not a lot to introduce. While the title does enough to keep things fresh with these little changes and the ramping difficulty, it would be nice to have a few more introductions as the title goes on.
Somehow, When Ski Lifts Go Wrong manages to make things more difficult while still keeping things light-hearted and retaining the charm that keeps the title so engaging. So many other titles feel like a bit of a grind in the later levels. When Ski Lifts Go Wrong still feels as engaging and joyous as it did at the start, which keeps even those who aren’t massive fans of the genre engaged.
What really helps with the engagement is the simple geometric art style. It’s rather akin to Bomber Crew in some ways, another title published by Curve Digital, that we also rather enjoyed. It’s an art style that’s got a broad range of appeal, with clear ties to a younger audience that doesn’t push away those older fans who want to experience a classic physics builder.
Replayability for some might be limited, as the real source of replayability comes from the completion of in-level challenges, such as the collection of medals. Many seasoned players might well collect these in the natural pace of the game, leaving little behind other than the plethora of levels. Thankfully, there is a sandbox mode, and an in-built mp4 and gif exporter to share your greatest moments with the world. Like most titles, the steam workshop also offers a great deal to players once the core experience is completed, a wise move from the team over at Hugecalf Studios.
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong is a physics builder in its best form. Oozing with charm and character, this title is one that offers a concept so simple and barebones yet drapes it in enough challenge and style to create a title that players will enjoy from start to finish. While replayability only really comes from the competition of challenges in the levels and user-generated content, there’s enough here to keep you occupied for a long long time.