The concept of “the speedrun” is a familiar term to those who enjoy competitive gaming – especially the record-setting guide. If you’re in that crowd, then you know what it means to complete Super Mario Bros in under 5 minutes – memorizing your moves and executing them with amazing accuracy. It’s a principle that Speedrunners – a game by developer DoubleDutch – is built around.
In Speedrunners, the term was never more appropriate. While “Speedrun” can be applied to pretty much any game that has a campaign to complete, Speedrunners actually focuses on running. In that sense, it’s sort of a 2D Mirror’s Edge, if you only take the trial levels from that game. Speedrunners is a platformer that’s easy to learn yet hard to master. Your set of moves is fairly small, with the usual running and jumping as well as a grappling hook you can use to swing over gaps and/or gain momentum. Aside from that, there are just a few on-track items you can activate and a speed boost that you can use if you have it.
It’s deceptively simple, because Speedrunners is all about a race to the finish line – and lagging behind loses you the race. The player who drops far enough behind to ‘fall’ off the screen is eliminated, until only one player is left. If you get to the finish line, you’ll keep looping across the level until there’s a winner. To make sure the action doesn’t keep going forever, the camera zooms in when fewer players are active, making the edge of the screen closer than it is at the start of the level.
For such a highly competitive game, it’s good that there’s a tutorial and a single player portion in place. The tutorial teaches you the basics and while the single player content isn’t too exciting, it does give you a good feel for how the races unfold. It’s all just a prelude to the real heart of the game though: multiplayer racing, either locally or online. A match can have up to four players in it, and the first of them to win three legs is the overall winner.
Aside from pure platforming, there’s also a Mario Kart-esque battle element in the items that you can pick up and use. These include things like bombs and obstacles, making quick reaction times a must if you don’t want to be eliminated. It’s also important to use the right strategy, for example in terms of when to use your special item. Do you use it early in the race to create some space for yourself, or do you save it until there are only two players left – take the risk that you’ll be taken out earlier by someone else.
The developers have added 16 courses to the game, but the online community is very active (the game spent quite a bit of time in early access) and there’s a wealth of content to explore in the shape of additional courses to race on. This gives the game tons of replay value – a bit like a Trackmania game does.
There is no real campaign to speak of so as a solo game you have to be into competitive gaming at least a little bit to enjoy Speedrunners. If you’re not then surely the multiplayer mode will bring out the best (or worst) in you, because Speedrunners is one of the best multiplayer games you can get if you’re a platforming fan.