[Hands-on preview] DeathSprint 66 is awesome high speed parkour racing

[Hands-on preview] DeathSprint 66 is awesome high speed parkour racing

Part Tron, part Death Race, all awesome

When Game Director Andrew Willans from Secret Mode and Sumo Digital started up DeathSprint 66 to show me the basics, I have to admit that I thought I was in way over my head. The project, a lightning fast futuristic on-foot racing game, looked nearly chaotic. Watching his racer move at top speed, jumping over and through laser obstacles and along walls, I felt as though there was no way I would be able to keep up. My fish brain was just too slow. I’d lose, and I’d lose miserably, and I’d be laughed out of Summer Game Fest.

And then I played it, and it felt incredible.

DeathSprint 66 is a futuristic foot race where players must run through courses for the enjoyment of spectators. Death and peril are around every corner, with lasers, spikes, pitfalls, and weapons able to quickly take out any competitors. And it’s fasssssst. The game feels and controls like Mario Kart, with acceleration, drifting, course boosts and even items that can be used and launched. But we do it all on foot, and it looks really cool in the process. As we rush through a course we need to hop over or go around obstacles; it’s especially cool seeing our runner ride a rail, leap up and run along a wall, jump through the air and do a sort of sideways flip to get away from a twirling laser, landing on the other side of a chasm. Equally cool is rounding a corner and going into a drift, with just millimeters of clearance from a spiked wall on our left flank. Many of the hazards are always moving, so we have to plan our position sometimes well in advance of when we come up to something that will set our race back. It’s important not just to keep moving forward, but to understand when we’ll need to do a quick mid-air adjustment to reposition ourselves should an obstacle suddenly turn a different direction.

Customization options will include being able to add visual differentiators to our runners, like colors and graphics — and the team is working with content creators and their community to make even more. However, there will be no microtransactions to get anything; the game aims to be content complete when it hits full release.

We played a few courses, with Willans telling me that the developers were keeping track of how fast the demo attendees were able to clear the courses. “The top is around 2 minutes right now” he tells me, as I barely slip past 3 minutes on my first race due to several falls. “Okay, let me try again,” I tell him. And I do. And then again. And again. And AGAIN. And I loved it. I loved learning the tracks, I loved the instantaneous shifts in movement I needed to make, and I loved the high speed that often left me trying to catch my breath.

I didn’t break the track record, but there’s always the launch to look forward to later this year to give me plenty of opportunities.