What do you do in Speedrunners? Well, you definitely run. You run, at speed. The goal is to run at such a speed that other runners (also running at speed) are unable to match your speed and are left behind and eliminated, bringing their running to a speed of zero. You’ll really come away from Speedrunners thinking about two things: running, and speed. Hopefully not the drug.
However, despite not being a drug, Speedrunners is definitely pretty addictive. Playing as one of four heroes, it’ll probably remind you a bit of Sonic, with 2D environments flying by as you maintain a blistering velocity. In gameplay terms, it’s a little more like Mario Kart, as keeping the other three racers behind you involves devious play and a bunch of weapons and traps to throw at them. It’s not about laps or times, though; eliminating other players is as basic and them getting cut off by the edge of the screen, with the camera always following the leading player. Like Mario Kart, Speedrunners is blatantly geared to be played with other people, preferably a complete party of four, and putting yourself about bots will give you that same sad-sack feeling as playing Left 4 Dead alone. Don’t be that guy.
The simplicity of the formula and the level playing field given by the identically functioning characters is what gives the game its real addictive factor, the feeling that picking it up and playing a quick 5-minute game has nothing to do with a hundred hours’ worth of unlocks or online ranking – just you against them, with personal skill being the only thing between you. While being a joyfully easy game to learn, mastery involves plenty of memorising of routes and devilishly quick fingers, and when elimination leaves just two racers remaining it’s a brutally tense experience to watch and wait for the first person to slip up. The precision involved in skilled play means it’s a damn good thing the game runs and plays so smoothly, especially with a gamepad.
To put it succinctly, Speedrunners is a seriously fun game that just isn’t finished yet, with plenty of forgiveable errors that can easily be corrected by the time it’s done. There’s only one (rather tiring) piece of in-game music, the wallrunning doesn’t feel too good, there are some apparent AI bugs, and honestly I think being able to customise your own runner would be a fabulous feature – but with no set date for the game’s completion, there’s plenty of time for such things. It’s currently possible to play the game via Steam’s Early Access program for $9.99, so grab it while it’s cheap, guilt trip your friends into doing the same, and go crazy. It’s dangerously fun.