Crime-fighting. Its a difficult job. In the world of Speedrunners its difficult for reasons you might not have considered. What would happen in a world where Superheroes were as prolific as those with an AA in business? Where only the hungry and competitive get to be employed for their unique anti-villain skillsets, while the rest are relegated to fry cook duty at the local deep fry eatery.
Speedrunners casts you as a fledgling costumed vigilante desperate to break onto the scene as ‘This City’s #1 Hero!” The catch? You are not the only one. Thus, we come to the core of the game, which is not actually fighting crime at all; rather, its a mad dash to beat your fellow would-be champions of justice to the scene of the crime, by any means necessary.
What does this translate to? A Mario-Kart-esque footrace across rooftops, through buildings, and any other place you could seemingly run at semi-full bore. Players (up to 4 of them) pick their hero of choice from a multitude of excellent original characters (and YouTube personalities!), and then beat feet (and each other), picking up power ups, swinging on grappling hooks, and tripping each other as they attempt to leave their opponents in the dust.
The action is quite simple. Heroes run in a repeating/looping level, attempting to have their opponents leave the shared screen by being outpaced. This is accomplished with the help of numerous tools. Players may find themselves in possession of seeker rockets to sling at opponents, remote mines, drop-able crates, and Scorpion-esque ranged grappling devices, just to name a few of the tools available. Players are able to double jump and wall jump, as well as deploy grappling hooks to avoid obstacles (with mechanics similar to the ninja rope from Worms Armageddon). You can even build speed by manipulating gravity and centrifugal force with well-place grapples.
Once the first opponent is knocked out (by meeting an untimely end at the edge of the screen as the rest of the dynamic do-gooders race on), things really begin to heat up. The music changes, and the edges of the screen shrink, giving the remaining players less and less room to maneuver. This can continue to a point where skilled players continue their parkour punchfest in a screen roughly 1/3 the size of normal. Last man standing wins the round; first to 3 wins takes the match.
Sounds delightfully simple doesn’t it? And you’d be right to think so, given the initial smattering of levels from developer tinyBuild. Speedrunners features Steam Workshop support, and the level of complexity in some of the user generated levels can really ramp up the difficulty when it comes to twitch reactions and puzzling out the fastest, most appropriate route. The game sports competitive multiplayer, as well as local and online play. You may play with a keyboard or controller (the latter being this authors preference).
Having said all that, I offer you this review and endorsement with full disclosure. Having played this game at length with people of varying skill levels, bear the following disclaimers in mind:
– There is a bit of a learning curve here, particularly in the competitive scene. Its ok to fail, as long as its still fun, right?
– This game is in Early Access. Its not perfect, but it is pretty darn good.
– Furniture and peripherals may be at risk during gameplay. Specifically, gamepads and keyboards may experience stress fractures during tense matches, or become heavily moistened by an abundance of palm perspiration. Furniture, on the other hand, may become damaged due to severe body contractions, particularly during close matches. To elaborate, whilst racing you may experience “butt fist,” a tensing ones backside that may result in loss of underwear and damage to ones gaming chair.
If I haven’t scared you off with the potential dangers above, Speedrunners is a no-brainer buy. So, what are you waiting for? Break out your spandex, knee-high lace boots, and cape, and prepare to race….. FOR JUSTICE!!!!!!