Speed-running has become a largely popular past-time in recent years. With Awesome Games Done Quick and other speed-running events happening every year, hundreds of thousands of people find themselves enthralled by the prospect of someone beating a game faster than anyone else. DoubleDutch Games has managed to capture this magic in a game called SpeedRunners, where superheroes compete with one another over who can get to the scene of a crime the fastest.
Before I dive too deep into the review, I would like to point out something that I found particularly interesting: while I did not get involved in the multiplayer and co-op modes of Speedrunners, I was poking through the options menu and discovered that Speedrunners has Twitch Integration for Twitch.TV live-streamers. Streamers can host matches that they aren’t participating in (which is perfect for commentating) as well as allowing viewers to bet on who will win a multiplayer match in real-time.
Speedrunners is a game that is reminiscent of a 2D side-scrolling Mario Kart mixed with platforming elements. Each player (or the player and their AI counterparts) is put in the role of a superhero, who can jump, grapple onto ceilings, and slide under gaps. The competitors also have access to power-ups such as crates (which slow players down like a banana peel in Mario Kart) and rockets, which can do damage to the competitor they hit causing them to fall behind in the race. The object of most matches is to be the last one standing, by outrunning the other players and causing them to go past the boundaries of the screen (in a sort of Super Smash Bros. Style knockout.) Matches can consist of multiple rounds like in other racing games, and the person who wins the most rounds wins the overall match.
Speedrunners also has Steam Workshop support and a full level editor so players can not only create levels to use with friends, but also play with other user-created levels in order to race in new scenery for a bigger challenge. In addition to the Level Editor, there is also a “Trails” editor, which allows you to create trails for your heroes that will flow behind them when they reach a certain speed. These options provide customization for you and your friends so that the chaotic insanity can be enjoyed with endless levels and content.
Aside from the Multiplayer elements and the Workshop support, Speedrunners has a full Single Player campaign with difficulties ranging from Easy to Unfair (which surpasses even hard mode.) In the Story mode, the player takes on the role of SpeedRunner, who aims to become the fastest superhero, competing against other heroes and outrunning the most perilous of dangers. The more races and player wins, the higher their experience and progression system will grow, leading the player to unlock new weapons such as land-mines, new characters, and other levels.
The interesting part about the weapons in Speedrunners, is that many of them have interactions with one another. For example, if a homing missile is following you and you have a crate you can drop; doing so will cause the missile to hit the crate, preventing you from being slowed. The Story Campaign becomes more difficult and sophisticated as you go along, adding things such as spikes to impede the player’s progress.
While Speedrunners might seem simple enough at first, it quickly can become complex, and that isn’t even bringing the cutthroat nature of real players into the mix. Playing through the single player campaign would likely be a good start for new players, rather than tossing them into the deep end of a multiplayer match. That being said, I think that Speedrunners is a game better suited for a game night with friends than a solo playthrough, as part of the fun is letting your friends think they are winning only to use your speed boost or weapon at just the right time to turn the tables.
The controls for Speedrunners are tight and responsive, and the only problem that I really have with Speedrunners (aside from the repetitive music) is that in order to really succeed in the game you would have to learn the levels backwards and forwards. Even a beginner player can defeat an expert one if the expert player doesn’t know the lay of the land. I find that Speedrunners is a bit unbalanced in that way, but I also think that it would be a fun and addictive party game.
They say that Mario Kart can ruin friendships, but honestly I think Speedrunners might gain the title of “Most Frustrating Party Game” if given the opportunity. While it isn’t too great as solo game, it seems like it would be a fantastic multiplayer adventure for friends and family.
A PC Code for Speedrunners was provided by tinyBuild for the purpose of this Review