Difficult Climbing Game Review (PS5) – A Cheap Clone Climber

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It had been a while since I last perused through the new releases on the PlayStation store, attempting to find a diamond in the rough. I’d stumbled across some great titles this way, hidden among the jumping food and trophy bait. I thought I’d come across another when I noticed Difficult Climbing Game had recently released on the PlayStation 5. “Oh, excellent. I’ve seen a few YouTubers play this”, I thought to myself, “I think I’ll give it a go”. Into my basket it went and a suspiciously short download later, I was booting it up.

That’s when I saw a logo I was disappointingly overly familiar with. The RandomSpin logo. Rather than the challenging-but-oh-so-gratifying A Difficult Game About Climbing from Pontypants, I was about to play a game that had been made to look like it in order to cash in on the popularity of the aforementioned surprise hit. The player character, a bald guy in a loincloth; starting from the sea; the basic premise of climbing ever upwards towards the peak with little to no guidance – if you were to squint, you’d be hard pressed to tell many visual difference between the opening of Difficult Climbing Game and the start of the title from which it takes its inspiration. Oh, apart from the vast gulf in quality, that is.

Falling For It

As soon as you start playing Difficult Climbing Game however, the differences quickly mount up. The aim of this game is to climb to the top of a series of obstacles using your arms. That’s it. These arms are controlled by the thumb sticks of the Dualsense controller independently of one another. By pressing and holding L2 and R2, you can grab on to the surface next to the corresponding hand. Once attached to a surface, you can then use the thumb sticks to pull yourself up, ready for the other hand to grasp a higher spot. Rinse. Repeat.

Rather than moving like a stiff climber similar its inspiration however, the protagonist here moves like they have boneless tentacles for arms. The hands stick to almost every surface as if you’re a semi-nude Peter Parker. Who need hand holds or crevices or bushes to hold onto to make the game interesting? The climber here is just spidering his way up some boulders.

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See Mom! No Ground!

What’s even more confusing is that in Difficult Climbing Game, you’re not actually climbing up the environment either. Here, you’re climbing a transparent plane that sits in front of the scenery off in the background. As the camera tracks upwards on your character, you can see how the hand isn’t actually attached to the rocks, branches and columns you’re supposed to be climbing. They’re simply floating above them.

Difficult Climbing Game? No, Just A Poor One.

The so-called challenge to a Difficult Climbing Game doesn’t come about because of the intricacy of the gameplay. There’s no jumping involved or any physics sections, like Pontypant’s hit. While some of the scenery in the background is moving, you’ll never actually grab onto anything that’s in motion. That’s just window dressing here. Instead, this game is mildly challenging only in the sense that it’s poorly put together, and that’ll be frustrating.

The transparent plane that you climb doesn’t quite match up to the shape of the obstacles you’re attempting to mount. You might reach out and press R2 to grasp a rock that looks directly under your right hand, only to grab onto nothing but air. You can’t climb quickly purely because you can never be sure that you’ll actually be able to stick to the land you know is actually within arm’s reach.

The most testing elements of Difficult Climbing Game come in the few sections that try to do something a little bit different. There are a few wires that you’ll need to traverse, hand over hand, and do so quickly, or you’ll fall. There are also a few pieces of ground that lower you as you grasp it, as if you’re slipping; you won’t actually have to traverse these sections though. This effect is simply to direct you someplace else in your quest upwards.

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A Short Sike

Difficult Climbing Game seems to misunderstand the central design tenet of the game it’s inspired by too. There’s no risk vs reward like A Difficult Game About Climbing. Because of its simplicity of game play, lacking the intricacies of its peers, it becomes an upward trudge, simply holding the thumb sticks up and alternating between L2 and R2.

It’s short too. I fell once during my time with Difficult Climbing Game (thanks to some missing invisible surface) and managed to complete the game in 19 and a half minutes. The game congratulates you for reaching the peak, but I hardly felt like I needed a pat on the back as the easiest Platinum Trophy I’ve ‘earned’ in years popped.

To give RandomSpin some backhanded credit here, they have gone the extra mile to ensure that Difficult Climbing Game is as closely matched to the opening section of the game it’s trying to clone. Even the sound effects when the climber grasps the ground sound similar. So too does the falling sound effect.

That is the crux of the issue with Difficult Climbing Game. Rather than add anything of worth to a blossoming genre, it’s a pale imitation of a much better game. Every element of the game’s design seems intent on confusing customers into buying something that isn’t the original article. It’s predatory, and reeks of building a game simply to part people from their money, rather that for any artistic endeavour. Millions of kids have watched YouTubers play A Difficult Game About Climbing (which you can buy here -I’ve now played it and it’s good). Some of them will see this game in the digital stores and will think they’re buying something else. It’s easily done, as I’ve learnt myself.

A cheap clone, Difficult Climbing Game is attempting to cash in on the popularity of a much better game. Short, unfulfilling and lacking complexity, this pale imitation is best left falling down.

Difficult Climbing Game is available now on PS5 (review platform) and PC via Steam.

Developer: RandomSpin
Publisher: RandomSPin

Disclaimer: In order to complete this preview, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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