A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Steep is a simulation of four winter and extreme sports, including skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, and wingsuit diving. Players can also freely walk or hike around the mountain range. The sports are faithfully recreated, save that characters don't suffer grievous injuries when they wipe out. Wingsuit divers who smash into the side of a mountain, for example, will tumble like rag dolls across the rocks and snow much like a real person would, but then they simply get up and walk away from the accident unharmed. The game cautions that none of the stunts players see should be imitated, but the fictitious athletes appear both fearless and indestructible, making them questionable role models. Parents should also be aware of some heavy product placement and sponsorships from real-world brands, including Red Bull, North Face, and Salomon.
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What's it about?
Players get to feel what it's like to engage in some of the world's most exhilarating and dangerous sports in STEEP, an open-world game set in the Alps that allows players to switch among skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, wingsuit diving, and hiking. Hundreds of events, base camps, and points of interest are scattered at locations all around the mountains, and players can instantly transport to any of them once discovered. Barriers -- such as the player's experience level -- block access to some activities, but there's not really a specific order for events and objectives to be accomplished. This allows players to freely explore the mountain and do whatever they like whenever they like. They can even take helicopter rides to otherwise inaccessible locations simply to have a look around. Players will find the avatars of other players on the mountain with them and can group with each other at the tap of a button. A large array of goals and rewards spanning multiple categories, including exploration, tricks, and extreme wipeouts, encourage players to experiment and take risks on where they can go and how they can get there.
Is it any good?
This sports sim rewards the adventurous explorer across the Alps with an expansive trip across the slopes. Think of this game as the winter/extreme sports version of Forza Horizon. Steep is all about doing what you want, when you want, where you want, however you want. The characters rarely talk, but when they do, it's about how they feel free and invincible. They want to conquer the mountain and see things no one else has seen, and they fear nothing. It's a liberating experience for the player and a very fresh take on the decades-old genre of winter sports games.
But whether you actually have fun will depend greatly on just how much you enjoy the sports on offer. The paragliding and wingsuit events tend to be short and pretty straightforward (though not easy), while some of the skiing and snowboarding activities can become a bit frustrating until you get a feel for the terrain in the locations where they're set. It's easy to go off-trail and get a bit lost on your way to finding a rocky gap you're supposed to ski through and to catch jumps at the wrong angle. Mistakes mean you need to head back up the mountain and try again. Perhaps the most rewarding activity of all is simply exploring and finding new base camps. You can get to camp beacons through any combination of transportation methods -- say, skiing down a steep slope, then paragliding over a deep crevice and hiking up the last few hundred yards to a rocky summit. It can be exhilarating. If you have a passion for extreme winter sports, Steep is definitely worth a look.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. It's easy to lose yourself in an open-world game like Steep, where activities naturally roll into each other, but how do you make sure quick play sessions don't turn into marathon game events resulting in sore eyes and stiff limbs?
Talk about knowing your limits. Sports are fun, but they can also be dangerous, so if you ski or snowboard, what sorts of rules do you follow to stay safe while on the mountain?
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