I wrote about The Ramp a few weeks back when I thought it looked like a cool little skateboarding game, but I’m writing about it again now because it’s out and I’ve played it and it’s wonderful.
Let’s set some expectations before we begin: The Ramp is a very small game. It costs $4.79 at launch. It’s got a handful of skaters to choose from, it takes place on only four stages, there’s no campaign, no licensed soundtrack, no extravaganza of sponsored content or unlockable guest stars.
What it does have are two things: an isometric viewpoint and a beautifully-tuned set of controls, with which it wants you to just sit back, unwind and skate to your heart’s content. That’s it! This game is a plaything, a set of four blank canvases—each offering slightly different challenges, from standard vert ramps to enormous jumps—upon which you’re free to just skate however the hell you want.
There’s no stress over your combo score, no time limit gnawing away at you, no leaderboards and no multiplayer. If you preferred Skate over THPS because it brought things back a little closer to just the act of skating, then The Ramp takes things about as far back as they can get while still being about skating.
While the subject matter couldn’t be further apart, it pushes a lot of the same buttons that Townscaper did for me, in that it takes a genre of video game I’m very into and just strips it back to its most essential elements, where free of further consequences or layers of gameplay you’re able to just...enjoy them as they are.
The Ramp is a skating sandbox, then, a fantastic exploration of just how fun the act of skating, crashing (the crash physics here are bone-crunchingly cute) and getting back up again can be when you’re only doing it for yourself and the inherent joy to be found in the act itself.
It’s out now on Steam.