Secret Shelf: The Ramp Is The Lo-Fi Skating Game With Good Vibes Only
You might think you know the skateboarding game experience - and quite frankly, so did I. Getting dropped into a massive park or instantly firing down a heavily-populated hill while Superman by Goldfinger booms at you is what we think of when we consider the skating game, and for good reason. The genre is defined by its high energy and often silliness. It’s also irreversibly dripping with mid-2000s nostalgia, carried by titans like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or Skate.
It’d make sense for skateboarding titles to follow this formula forever - it works nicely, after all. But, developer Paul Schnepf had different ideas.
Digital Toy Story
There’s a lot of ways to describe The Ramp. Some of those in the game’s Steam reviews have suggested it’s like ASMR in video game form, while others claim that it’s “a fidget spinner for the cool kids” and “Lofi Freestyle Skateboarding” - and each of these descriptions is fitting. The Ramp is a very individual experience, designed as a time filler and a “digital toy”, the game focuses solely on absolute flow. And hell, does it deliver.
The thing you’ll recognise first about The Ramp is that from the first moment to the moment you put it away again, is that there’s no pressure whatsoever. Hop into the half-pipe and get gliding, and if you stack it, no worries, brother. Just get up and try again. And it’s exactly this, a very real element of real skating, that many of the games forget.
Chatting with Paul Schnepf, developer of The Ramp and co-founder of Grizzly Games, it’s clear that even though a game like this couldn’t go without its influence from the likes of Pro Skater and other high-profile skating titles, the focus was more clearly set on a different experience. Schnepf’s own experiences with vert skating are what influenced the laid-back nature of the game, as it’s not often that gaming experiences allow for actual relaxation, what with all the floating letters begging to be collected and tall roofs to bomb off of.
The simple joy of coasting over a half-pipe is the greatest joy that The Ramp presents, and its smooth controls and mastery of momentum make even the harshest of bails feel like a breath of fresh air. Even though the rag doll physics are pretty funny.
The simplicity of The Ramp is what carries it into beauty. There are four levels, each gradually increasing in complexity until you reach the titular ramp, a behemoth of a hop that more often than not end in a brutal faceplant. But, thanks to the low-poly graphics, the simple tricks system, and the music with just enough groove to be boppable but not groovy enough to breach the lofi vibes, it won’t matter. You’ll peel yourself off the ground to give it another go.
You might only spend 10 minutes at a time with The Ramp to fill the gaps in your day, but you’ll find yourself clamouring to get back to it. It’s an infectious time-swallower, and one that exemplifies that actually, pulling tricks in a bowl can actually be an incredibly relaxing experience - we might just have been too busy bombing to realise it.
The Ramp is out now on Steam.