Insurmountable, a game by indie dev ByteRockers' Games, is everything you would expect in a climbing simulation game with turn-based strategy and a little RPG. The question is, how can a video game about an extreme sport that's based on the cruelty of nature and making choices in a split second translate that into a fun experience? Can we still have fun climbing the tallest mountains without leaving the house? Basically, does Insurmountable actually succeed? Let's talk about that!
Doing Things Your Way
Insurmountable goes straight to the point. As soon as you launch a new game, you can pick your favorite climbing style, which also affects your resources and objectives. As a mountaineer, you can be an adventurer, a scientist, or a journalist, but their goal is one and the same: get to the tallest point, admire the view, and come back home alive.
It doesn't matter if you're gathering documentation, investigating strange radioactive emissions, or just challenging nature for fun. Climbing mountains won't be easy. You need to take care of your resources and overall health, for example. In our run, the biggest problem was getting to sleep. Sleeping, as you can imagine, helps you have more energy to keep exploring, but tents are a valuable resource, caves are not always safe or warm, and on top of things, following the day-night cycle is not as simple as it sounds. Another thing to take into account is your sanity because, as you can imagine, no one wants to go crazy being thousands of meters above sea level...
We See an Event, We Go to That Event
Although your goal should be to follow the fastest and/or shortest route, it's hard to ignore all events around you. There are several kinds of events, all of them perfectly identified with icons that will catch your attention. Is that a cave where I can sleep in? How about these abandoned tents I could scavenge? Wait, is that a shrine that will refill my energy?!
You know, there's a reason we're not climbing actual mountains. We would probably die in our first encounter with a wild predator... or maybe in our first freezing night. In Insurmountable, however, events are too hard to be ignored and, most of the time, they feel rewarding. Being able to decide what to do is a nice touch that gives the game an RPG feel that perfectly matches the inventory management system. Risk and reward.
Okay, You Climbed It. Now Get Back Down Here and Start Preparing for the Next Mountain!
Once you get to the top, you are the most important person in the world. You feel invincible, you ARE invincible... but hey, you need to climb down! That's an interesting choice. In other games, once you get to the tallest point, that's it; you get a nice cutscene and a few seconds later, you're ready for your next challenge—not in Insurmountable, friends!
Once you get to that green cell on the top of it all, it's time to start over again and find a way back. It should be easier now you know where to go, right? Oh, but you probably have fewer resources now, and your body won't be in perfect shape after all those unlucky events. It's hard to say, but it kind of gives the whole adventure another level of meaning. Sadly, our first adventure was not the most rewarding one. As soon as we got to the tallest point of the first mountain, we received a message saying the radioactive signals we were following were not as strong after all and we needed to climb another, taller mountain—Insourmountable's version of "thank you, Mario! But our Princess is in another castle!"
Did we have fun with Insurmountable? You bet we did! It's a fantastic little adventure that always has something waiting for you. It's not hard, but it's not easy either. With its casual playstyle and random situations, it's a perfect game for those looking for challenging adventures, and the best part is that although you never know what to expect and resource management is key, you can always take some time to admire the view and do your thing.
Insurmountable is currently available on PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox One X/S, and Switch.