For over a decade, players in Counter-Strike have been able to unwind with a certain class of maps. They're called kz - short for kreedz - and they're a series of obstacle courses where players climb, swing, surf, bunnyhop and bungee jump their way to the finish line.
Previously, you'd have had to fire up Counter-Strike and dig through the server browser to get your parkour fix. And if that sounds like your cup of tea, Kreedz Climbing offers a similar style of gameplay in a standalone, free-to-play package.
Anyone who has played a Half-Life mod will immediately be familiar with Kreedz Climbing from the opening menu. It looks like a Half-Life conversion: the font is reminiscent of Counter-Strike 1.6, the game opens up with a console, and the training section has a bunch of translucent orbs that look like they were pulled from Xen.
When you fire up the game, you'll be directed to a tutorial covering the different skills you'll need in climbing maps: bunnyhopping, long jumps, bungee jumps, strafejumping, air movement, and the ways you can manipulate the game's physics to go faster. It's not the most exhaustive tutorial and it's missing a few prompts here and there, but provided you've played Half-Life before and you know how to interact with items, you should be able to find your way through.
Maps can be fairly straightforward at first: you might be faced with a pit and a bunch of platforms, with the distance between platform slowly increasing. Or you might have a simple set of pillars to traverse, or a hill to surf down.
Going fast takes a good deal of practice, and even though there are leaderboards and the climbing community has plenty of competition, Kreedz Climbing isn't a competitive game per se. It's only as competitive as you want it to be, although seeing some of the more experienced climbers on YouTube can be a little intimidating.
There's no microtransactions or DLC, and anyone can create their own maps with the supplied editor. The "fun" in the game is a little similar to something like Trials, where you're essentially trying to unwrap the puzzle of the level. It's made for people who mechanically challenging games, but without the competitive elements of a traditional multiplayer FPS, or with the world-building or enemies you'd encounter in something like Dark Souls.
Kreedz Climbing will run on a potato, more or less, although the tricks necessary are impossible without a mouse on hand. (Sorry, touchpad gamers.) And there's almost a meditative quality to discovering the trick to each of the courses. There's more modes than just racing to the finish line too: you can play Tag Arena, where players chase each other in a lightning-quick version hide and seek, or co-op courses that require players to work together.
Climbing games aren't likely to become A Thing on Steam because of Kreedz Climbing. But it's a neat way for people to explore one of the more underappreciated Counter-Strike mods of the last decade, and it doesn't cost a cent.
Kreedz Climbing is available now on Steam.