Speedrunners Review (PC)
Kristoffer Dodds runs around some levels in Speedrunners to bring us a review
Speedrunners is a multiplayer game that recently launched from Steam Early Access, with an XBox One Release planned in 2016, and talks about a possible PS4 release. The game is developed by DoubleDutch Games and published by tinyBuild. It plays like a 4 player platforming version of Mario Kart.
The game involves all players running around on a looping level dodging natural obstacles (like boxes and spikes) until someone falls too far behind, or a minute and a half passes, whichever comes first. At this point the outer edges of the screen explode, and the playable area gets smaller and smaller until one player is left alive. That player wins the round, first to 3 wins. With 16 maps on launch, a Story Mode, Online and Local Multiplayer, including a ranked mode and Steam Workshop Support for custom levels (at time of writing there is a mammoth 23,391 user created levels) there’s a fair chunk of content to work through.
You don’t start the game with all of the Maps, Items and Characters unlocked, these are unlocked via an in game XP system. All of the Items and Maps are unlocked at Rank 5 however, which I got to during the Story mode, so it doesn’t take long to have everything important, after that it’s characters and extra colours. Experience is gained by playing the game. Anytime you do something noteworthy in a game a yellow text pop up will appear above your character, and you’ll get an amount of Experience at the end of the game for it.
There’s a total of 24 playable characters, all of which have a superhero theme to them, but the difference is purely cosmetic. Each runner comes equipped with a grappling hook, which can be used to swing on white ceilings; a Double Jump, that refreshes whenever you touch the ground, a special wall you can jump off of, or swing with the grapple; a Boost Bar, that fills whenever you stand next to a Boost Station, which can be used immediately to catch up if behind, or saved to pull off some tricks and shortcuts; and the ability to slide, which is mostly used to slide under obstacles on the map, but it can be used to trip other players if you can time it right. There are also floating blue item boxes to be collected. These will give you usable items, from the humble box, that can be dropped to attempt to slow your competitors or block their pesky items, to the iconic Golden Hook, which will grab the player in front of you and pull them back to your position.
In the Story mode you play as Speedrunner, the titular character of the game, in a series of 16 races that take you through all of the game’s standard maps against AI opponents. This is broken down into 4 sets of 4 races against Speedrunner’s rivals. The first 3 races will be 4 player, whilst the final race will always be a 1 vs 1. The story mode does a good job of introducing the game’s mechanics, even touching on some of the more advanced mechanics to do with momentum, and the AI is actually pretty difficult to beat on the Unfair difficulty.
Multiplayer however, is where Speedrunners shines. If you can get a group of 4 friends together that are all roughly the same skill level, then the game is an absolute blast. There’s a lot of super tense moments with someone barely holding on for dear life as the slowly shrinking screen pressures them more and more until it’s a vicious 1 vs 1 where one mistake could mean the end of a close fought battle. The online multiplayer works near flawlessly, only real issue is if someone has a high ping the camera can focus on them when they’re behind, which can result in the frontrunners literally running off screen.
Speedrunners is an incredibly skill intensive game however, so if you do decide to delve into Ranked Play it’s not exactly a learning curve. Ranked play is split into 9 different divisions, winning races in your divisions will get you points depending on how many other players you beat, which will eventually get you towards the next division. However, each division is a massive step up from the past one, to the point where someone in a division higher than you will easily win 90% of games. This is just sheerly down to map knowledge, knowing different tips and tricks that’ll get them through the level faster and general experience with the game. Getting good at Speedrunners is not easy, you need to be prepared to be dismantled by people that are outright better than you. The nature of the game does however mean that you can see absolutely everything that they’re doing, so if you can handle the punishment you will quickly improve.
All in all, Speedrunners is a fantastic game with friends that’s super easy to pick up, but very hard to master. With the developers continuing to work on the game after release, including hosting a few tournaments, there should be some more great content coming soon. I would definitely recommend picking it up if you have a group of friends you play games with, the community is very welcoming and you should always be able to get a game if your friends aren’t available. There is also a demo available on the Steam Store if you are wanting to try the game first.
9 Super Sonic Wipeouts out of 10