With their sense of adventure and potential danger just over the next hill, winter sports like snow skiing or snowboarding have always appealed to me, but as I’m not a fan of cold weather my enjoyment of these sports has come vicariously through spectating.
I hoped Terje Håkonsen’s Powder VR would provide a realistic immersive experience where I could master snow-covered mountains, race through crevices in the valleys, and jump off ramps like an extreme sports star. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.
When you first open the game, a tutorial introduces you to basic skiing concepts so you understand how to move forward, turn, stop, jump, etc. Some areas were simple, while others took me a few minutes to figure out, but the tutorial imparted necessary skills and it was an enjoyable introduction.
Normally I play VR games seated due to health problems that cause leg pain when I stand in a stationary position for long periods, and thankfully you can easily calibrate Powder VR for seated play. This is very much appreciated and all developers should have this accessibility option. With Powder VR I did start out seated, but somewhere along the way I decided to stand up and the recalibration was quick and simple. The experience was just as enjoyable in my chair, but I wanted to try this one standing as well.
The game interface is easy to use and understand, but a bit glitchy at times. Powder VR is still in early access so this is forgivable, particularly once you hit the slopes where you have an opportunity to use speed, precision, and skill to shred the mountainside. You have to be cautious, however, or you’ll smash into an obstacle, which will ruin your time for that run and force you back to the start line.
There are a lot of customization options, from your clothing color to whether or not you have hair, and plenty of various modes and slopes to enjoy. You can explore in freestyle mode, race against other CPU-controlled skiers and snowboarders, or enjoy challenges in the World Tour. Each mode also had different courses, which is nice. Finally, in addition to your skiis or snowboard, you also have the option to soar down the mountain with a wingsuit. I didn’t have an opportunity to try that yet, but definitely I plan to.
Prior to the Steam Early Access launch in December 2020, RainSoft brought in Norwegian snowboarder Terje Håkonsen to provide feedback and endorsement for the project. Terje Håkonsen revolutionized the sport of snowboarding, and his contributions to Powder VR will encourage many people around the globe who will never have the opportunity or ability to enjoy winter sports in physical reality. That’s a gift.
This is a fantastic experience with many options and a realistic feel. There’s also the added benefit of an excellent fitness workout for your entire body. My legs were incredibly sore after playing Powder VR as I had basically been doing squats for an hour.
After I played and took a couple Ibuprofen for my legs, I immediately reached out to a few friends and recommended that they purchase it. My description was something along the lines of, “It’s a great game and you really feel like you’re skiing except that it’s not cold and you can even ski in your pajamas!”
Sonya is a respected journalist in the field of VR esports. She was the first female player to qualify for the VR League North American Regional Championships, as well as the first seated player in the league. Sonya is founder of VR Community Builders, a non-profit company dedicated to positive, inclusive environments. She has 5 grown children, has written 8 books and lives in Southeast TN.
While there are a few interface issues, this is a fantastic game and Terje Håkonsen’s Powder VR has definitely raised the bar for sports sims entering the VR market.