Build shaky ski lifts in Early Access physics sim Carried Away

Fans of charming physics simulation games like bridge-construction game Poly Bridge may have something new to wrap their brains (and support cables) around. Carried Away, now in Early Access, is a sim about constructing chair lifts and gondolas to shepherd skiers up to the tops of the slopes. You can even control your little skiers at times to guide them over the jumps you build, and in addition to several goal-driven campaigns there's a sandbox mode where you can design your own mountains and challenges.

Of course, that's all easier said than done.

Construction is, in theory, very simple. Using anchor points, build lift towers with planks, logs, ropes, and supports, and connect the base to the exit point with a lift cable. Then, start the simulation and see if your skiers make it to the top (after which they'll ski back down). There are obstacles like trees that can get in the way, snow-making machines that can blow skiers around in circles, and the structural integrity of your construction, of course, may simply not be up to snuff.

As with other physics-based building sims, half the fun of Carried Away is in failure. When your carefully (or hastily) constructed tower begins to strain and shudder and collapse, spilling your skiers violently to the ground or into trees and rocks, it can be just as satisfying and fun as when you safely and competently lift them to the top. It's also easy to jump back and forth between construction mode and the simulation, so making adjustments, or starting over completely, just takes a second.

There's also a lot of enjoyment when part of your construction comes crashing down and yet you still manage to pass the level. Above, a set of my logs snapped but the ropes and cables both held, and my skiers still managed to exit the lift safely. Sure, it's a mess and probably scared my guests half to death, but they got to the top. Score! 

You will also be called upon to build bridges and jumps, so your skiers can cross gaps and chasms. Once you've done it, you can control your skiers as well, helping them hunch down and then lift off at the appropriate moment to boost their jumps. Again, easier said than done. Below, you can see I haven't quite figured out how to best build jumps, nor guide my skiers across them.

There are currently about 50 levels in Carried Away, and in the 6 to 12 months in Early Access planned, developer Huge Calf Studios plans to add around 50 more, along with features like snowboarders, mountain bikers, and bombs. Bombs? Bombs.

What I've played so far of Carried Away has been an enjoyable time and, as I said, equally fun when succeeding or failing. You'll find it in Early Access on Steam for $9, with a note that when the game is complete, the developer plans to raise the price.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.