Downhill sledding can be an exhilarating experience, if you like high speeds, snowy thrills, and chilly weather. But for those of us who prefer to avoid the cold and stay out of harm’s way, digital snowbound mayhem will suffice as a warmer, safer substitute. Muse Games’ Extreme Sledding certainly offers some virtual tree-lined slopes to haphazardly zip down on a rusty toboggan. Whether or not the game’s small handful of levels will deliver anything more than a few fleeting moments of fun really depends on how bored you are.
As a furry yeti armed with a sled and a death wish, you’ll rocket down dangerous wintry slopes and weave through trees and other obstacles en route to the finish line. The downward trek more closely resembles a traditional downhill ski race than a simple sled run, since your score is largely determined by how fast you get to the finish and how many blue gate flags you are able to pass through. Gameplay-wise, that’s about all there is here.
Extreme Sledding has a cel-shaded visual style that’s good looking and unexpectedly high-end for a flash game. The 3D graphics and animations run smoothly, even with lots of stuff happening on screen all at once. Each course undulates through winding valleys laden with fresh snowfall, and you’ll occasionally encounter jumps and more dangerous obstacles like waterfalls, avalanches, and grumpy polar bears that wander around menacingly. The latter can be dispatched with well placed snowball.
The game doesn’t have any problem emulating the rush of racing down a mountain on a rickety sled – something anyone who grew up living in a region that gets annual snowfall might recall with great fondness. The problem is it falls flat in terms of the goals and objectives. Playing solo, there’s not much to do besides simply race down the hill. There aren’t any items to collect, cool medals to earn, additional stages to open-up, or other rewards to nab for doing a good job. This makes the experience feel pretty pointless.
With only five short levels to play through, it only takes a few minutes to soak in everything Extreme Sledding has to offer. Though each is slightly different and throws new obstacles at you, they’re all pretty similar and none are particularly challenging. Racing against other human opponents in the multiplayer mode seems like it might add a lot of fun to the limited gameplay – particularly with the ability to hurl snowballs at them – but there’s just not enough people playing the online to consistently find a functioning multiplayer match.
Look beyond the polished presentation and silly theme, and you’ll find a game that’s completely lacking in challenge, tangible goals, and any incentive to play beyond a few minutes. Extreme Sledding could be a really fun and impressive little lunch break diversion with some more work, but it’s just not worth spending a lot of time on in its current state. You’re better off grabbing a cafeteria tray or a garbage can lid and finding your own slope to tackle.