Insurmountable PC Review

For those who just need to have a roguelite mountain climbing game!

By LCLupus, Posted 06 May 2022

Sometimes a game comes along that is incredibly niche, and that’s a great thing because not everyone is interested in the usual fare. Maybe you don’t want an endless onslaught of action-oriented games and instead need to have some slow-paced, turn-based mountain climbing. It’s a good palate cleanser if nothing else. But I am going to emphasize here immediately: it is a slow game. Do not expect any kind of a rush while playing, it’s for a very specific type of player, but there is at least the option to turn on a setting that increases the overall speed of the game so at least it isn’t too slow… but it’s still very slow.


Insurmountable, PC, Review, ByteRockers' Games, DAEDALIC Entertainment, Mountain Climbing, Simulation, Strategy, Game, NoobFeed
 

So, what is Insurmountable? It’s a roguelite mountain climbing game. Every level presents you with a procedurally generated mountainous region constructed out of various blocks of differing terrain types and you need to make your way to a specific destination through those blocks. Sometimes it will be a very specific area, and other times it will simply be the highest point, the summit. Either way, you’re climbing a mountain and trying to get somewhere.

The gameplay of Insurmountable has you managing a number of stats. You need to keep your energy, oxygen, sanity, and temperature in mind as you play, and whenever any of these stats reach zero, you will start to lose health and then die if you keep going. On the “normal” difficulty setting, it is quite forgiving, but it gets significantly harder on those higher difficulties.


Insurmountable, PC, Review, ByteRockers' Games, DAEDALIC Entertainment, Mountain Climbing, Simulation, Strategy, Game


On each mountain, you need to navigate your character through a variety of terrain types, which each have their stats to them as certain terrains, like thick snow, takes more energy to wade through. In addition, much of the game’s “narrative”, if one could call it that, is tied up with a variety of procedurally generated events. These events are things like meeting a fellow mountaineer, finding an abandoned camp, or encountering an animal. These events then either take or give stats and/or inventory items.

To illustrate, it goes like this. You encounter a friendly animal that’s chewing on some herbs. You can decide to give it some of your food and turn it into a more positive encounter that grants you some sanity (which is pretty much a happiness meter) or you can shoot it away and take those herbs, which are an inventory item that could give you a buff of some kind later on, such as increasing your health or energy.


Insurmountable, PC, Review, ByteRockers' Games, DAEDALIC Entertainment, Mountain Climbing, Simulation, Strategy, Game


Every one of these events allows you to make rudimentary choices that will alter the course of that event, but they don’t contribute to an over-arching narrative. In fact, you’ll end up experiencing the same events multiple times. This can be a little irritating as they are rather limited in number and so it becomes repetitious. And it doesn’t take long for you to start seeing repeat events, maybe two hours (if that) of Insurmountable gameplay. And because it’s procedurally generated, you may encounter some events quite often and others just won’t spawn at all. This is the inherent problem with these kinds of procedural systems though. It offers good replay value, as there are theoretically infinite combinations of levels, but in actuality, there are only a few that repeat themselves.

As you navigate the mountain in Insurmountable, you need to make sure you get enough sleep, and see enough nice versus bad things (as that sanity meter decreases whenever you encounter more negative events, like nearly slipping down a crevasse or encountering a hostile human or animal), keep yourself warm (it is a snowy mountain after all), and keep your oxygen levels intact as higher altitudes make it harder to breathe. Essentially, the longer you’re on the mountain, the harder it becomes, especially if you’re high on the mountain (as your oxygen will only return with the use of oxygen canisters, special events, or climbing to a lower altitude).


Insurmountable, PC, Review, ByteRockers' Games, DAEDALIC Entertainment, Mountain Climbing, Simulation, Strategy, Game


To help you on your way, you can unlock temporary and permanent upgrades. The temporary ones affect you from the start of a mountain to the end of a mountain, and the permanent upgrades are determined between missions. These upgrades might lower your overall energy consumption on certain terrain types, allow you to get boosts if you’re hiking at a certain time of day, et cetera. And these upgrades work alongside an inventory and equipment system that will see you using tents when there are no caves around, torches for dark areas, boots to help you on your way, et cetera.

It’s a very simple game and you can get the hang of it within minutes of playing. Insurmountable never rushes you as time only moves when you decide to move your character somewhere on the map and the world only affects you when you’re moving. So, you can take as much time as you need to plan the optimal route through the snow and rock. Maybe you decide it would be best to hunker down in a tent to brace for this storm, but your temperature will go down as you’re sleeping in a tiny tent in the snow, or you could press on and find a cave to hide in, or a shrine in the distance that will fill you with energy and allow you to keep going long after you’d ordinarily be able to.


Insurmountable, PC, Review, ByteRockers' Games, DAEDALIC Entertainment, Mountain Climbing, Simulation, Strategy, Game


It’s essentially a strategic decision from one move to the next. Where should you go next? What would be best? What would be least likely to cause your death?

And all of this operates alongside a relatively dull central “narrative” about a time loop. However, if you’re playing Insurmountable, you’re probably not playing it for the story, you’re playing it for the extremely niche gameplay it offers. There’s hardly any story to talk about, hardly any dialogue, and hardly any motivation to keep going if you don’t care for the gameplay. So, I would recommend only picking this game up if you want a roguelite mountaineering survival game.



 

If you like watching and maintaining stats, then this is the game for you! If you like slow, methodical decision making and no combat or twitch reflexes, then Insurmountable is the game for you. If you want a narrative, linear progression of any kind, or compelling characters, then this is not the game for you. You will just be walking around a mostly ambient noise-filled world incredibly slowly, but that could be your jam! Depends on you.


Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): ByteRockers' Games, DAEDALIC Entertainment GmbH
Developer(s): ByteRockers' Games
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Mountain Climbing, Adventure, Strategy
Release Date: 2022-04-14

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