Racing games, for the most part, are all about competing against AI – or otherwise – drivers, in a single race, or a string of events. Sporadically, they also feature modes such as sprint, time attack, or drift, but ultimately, all of those are about driving as fast as possible, in order to either beat the time or other drivers. Even 2015’s Dirt Rally (which then released later on console), which many praised for not being like all the other racing games on the market, at its core, was still just like all the other rally games, it was simply much more difficult than its competitors.

At this point, many have given up in waiting for any unique experiences within the racing genre, especially after considering the fact that it itself, is slowly dying out. However, while many believed that the innovation within the said genre is dead and buried, Focus Home Interactive has managed to prove all the doubters wrong, with its most recent release, and most specifically, the release of Spintires: MudRunner. Which despite of all the negative press which surrounded it back in 2014, has managed to raise itself from the grave, with the help of Saber Interactive, and ultimately, inject not just the racing genre, but the market as a whole, with a breath of fresh air.

Spintires: MudRunner, despite of being built on the premise of driving from point A to point B, is not like all the other girls(strike out) racing games. As it is not about speed, taking corners, or drifting, but just like most horror games, it is all about survival. And this is because Spintires: MudRunner is based on a classical conflict of a man vs. nature, rather than on one which pitches men one against another. As ultimately, the goal of each and every mission within the title is not to get from point A to point B, as fast as it is humanly possible – no, the point of each and every objective is to simply make it – preferably in one piece.

The title in question, features numerous locales within the Commonwealth of Independent States. But despite of the variety in available playgrounds, they all have one thing in common, which is mud. Ultimately, mud plays a bigger role within the title than the vehicles themselves, as technically, mud and cold could be considered to be the main villain of title. As in order to reach your goals, and complete your objectives, you’re going to have to defeat it in any way you seem fit – and there is a number for you to choose from.

The primary way of crossing the treacherous terrains of Spintires: MudRunner, involves simply driving on semi-solid ground using the partial wheel drive. However, in order to traverse title’s numerous swamps, bogs, and rivers, one will have to refer to vehicle’s differential – which can be locked and unlocked – and the most helpful tool of all, the all-wheel-drive, which can pull the player controlled vehicle through nearly anything. However, if neither of the above can do the job, players’ can always use their winch in order to pull themselves out of the peril they’re in. And said winch is in most cases the final grace, as beyond it, there are no more options.

Just because Spintires: MudRunner features a plethora of ways to help the player beat it, it doesn’t mean that it is entirely supportive. As just like any other game, the title at hand also possesses a handful of features which are there to hinder the player as much as humanly possible. The first one, is rather reasonable, as it involves fuel consumption, which forces the player to balance between two and all-wheel-drive, as both the drives consume different amount of petrol, and understandably, all-wheel-drive consumes three times as much as the two-wheel-drive. However, fuel consumption, is nowhere near as infuriating as in-game’s flora, which deteriorates with use. Meaning that the winch is not always the trump card which many expect it to be, as by attaching it to a tree, there’s a pretty good chance that such will snap before one has a chance to get his vehicle out.

The unpredictability of the title, and its difficulty, are ultimately its biggest strong points, as they make it a thrilling and exhilarating experience without any direct competition. And the feeling of impending doom which hangs over the player’s head whenever he/she drives into a pool, of the rather excellent mud, is simply superb. As it turns the otherwise dull driving simulator, into a superb survival horror, which carries more fear-factor than your Outlasts, or Resident Evils. Every pool of mud can be a trap, every ditch can result in failure, and even the smallest of bridges can result in death of the player controlled vehicle. And if one is not careful, he/she can turn the landscapes Spintires: MudRunner, into vehicular graveyards, which in conjunction with the title’s use of fog, and rather cold palette of colours, can result in imagery pulled straight of Metro, or Fallout.

Ultimately, Spintires: MudRunner, is going to be a divisive title, despite of its qualities, as for some it is going to be simply much too difficult. And the learning curve, which is not really a curve, but a 90-degree line, will surely deter any casual gamers from ever touching the title, as may simply don’t have the time and or patience to learn and master, a title as complex as Spintires: MudRunner. Which is a shame, as the game at hand showcases that the driving genre is not dead yet, and that in-fact it is possible to still create ever-new experiences, which can push it forward. But regardless of its appeal, it has to be said that Spintires: MudRunner, is a feat in design and videogame engineering, which showcases that racing games, can be fluid in their form, and that we can go beyond the tarmac, and experience the genre in ever new ways, just like in Spintires: MudRunner.



Author

Kamil

My name is Kamil, and I'm the 'Feature Man'. I write news, and reviews just like everybody else, however, feature articles are my true forte. And this is not because I'm another self-centered, pseudo-intellectual games journalist, but because there are many discussion worthy matters which go unnoticed in the flurry of other video-game related articles. If you want to read more of my #HotTakes and #Opinions, or if you simply want to fight me over the internet, you can follow me on Twitter @Kama_Kamilia.