By Ryan Capak / August 15th, 2016
|Release Date||April 19, 2016|
Speedrunners is an action racing game where you run, grapple, and slide around various locales. The title is pretty self-explanatory really, as there are no vehicles. Up to four people race in what is essentially a kart racer without karts. Players have to avoid crates scattered around the track by jumping or sliding, and can grapple certain ceilings to swing for extra speed. There are also a wide array of items the player can use to trip up other racers. These range from crates to gigantic, heaven-piercing drills. Everyone dresses up like a B-list superhero too, so there’s that.
The first thing that stands out in Speedrunners is the art direction. Like I mentioned, every character is dressed in a ridiculous costume. Our main character “Speedrunner” is in a straight black version of one of those speed walking suits from Malcom in the Middle. Other costumes include a chicken suit and uh, just a humanoid deer. So overall, it’s got some fun and unique designs. On the other end of the spectrum though, is the sound design. I can’t really say much since there isn’t much to go on. In my time playing I heard I think 3 music tracks. I say I think because they all sounded pretty damn similar. The sound effect for the grappling hook is pretty punchy at least. It sounds nice.
Speedrunners is definitely one of those games that’s far more fun to play with a group of friends. It does have a single player story mode, but it’s not much. The story mode is more or less just a tour through some of the tracks while providing some background on a few characters. Honestly any “plot” at all was more than I was expecting from a game like this. But it also didn’t really feel necessary to begin with so…it’s just kinda there. Not bad or detrimental or anything like that, just there.
Being a racing game, Speedrunners is all about going fast, and the game gives you plenty of ways to do that. Of course you accelerate by just running in a straight line, but to really maximize your speed you’ll have to use the terrain. Certain ceilings can be grappled to swing yourself forward. Some courses have snaking vertical segments where grappling the ceiling is essential for keeping your speed, as it allows you to make instant U-turns. Slopes come into play as well. Downward slopes can be used to get you a small boost in speed, and hitting sloped ceilings can have the same effect.
Of course, keeping up your own speed isn’t the only important aspect. This is a kart racer, sans the karts anyway, and as such there are plenty of items. Every item is purely for interrupting other players, there’s no health system of any kind. The only way to knock a player out of the race is to force them off of the screen by getting far enough ahead. The items are probably the most satisfying part of the game. Dropping a crate on another racer’s head to disrupt them is pretty great. Not only are the items fun to use, they get pretty insane. The giant drill is, of course, the greatest item. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a huge drill. Hell yeah.
However, as fun as the items are to use, and as fun as the game can be while playing with friends, it has one pretty big flaw. The “play for maybe an hour when you’re bored with friends” feeling is very strong here. Speedrunners is definitely fun, but it doesn’t have the staying power of other multiplayer titles. Not to me, at least. Ranked matches online can provide some incentive to keep playing, but not enough for hours on end.
Overall I spent about an hour playing through the story mode. Then I tried some online play, which didn’t last long since I got destroyed. All of that fed into the “play this with friends” conclusion. Honestly, the $15 price tag will probably put a lot of people off from buying this. The game is definitely worth it if you’re a fan of the genre, however. Even more so if you’ve got some friends to play with.
Review copy provided by publisher
ActionDoubleDutch GamesPCRacingSpeedRunnerstinyBuild Games