Can Stuntfest – World Tour Revive A Genre On Life Support?

Variety Might Just Be What This Genre Needs

Stuntfest

I’ve always had a soft spot for destruction derby-style games, but they’ve had a rough go of things in recent years. Maybe even recent decades. Taking a car and smashing it into other cars is generally a good start when it comes to having fun, but players expect more than that, and for a long time now, developers have struggled to figure out what that more should be. The last game to really give it a go was last year’s Destruction All-Stars, which Sony pushed hard in the early marketing for the PS5. Its reception was so mediocre, though, that they eventually shifted it from a full-price release to a budget title which was given away on day one to PlayStation Plus subscribers. Even that didn’t manage to create a real community around it, with the developers forced to add bots within months so that players could consistently find games.

Despite the recent struggles with the genre, I came away from my first playtest with Stuntfest – World Tour thinking it might be the rare game to ditch this trend and get players back to enjoying the pure joy of cars smashing each other, largely because it’s so much more than that. While slamming into your opponents is definitely a major aspect, in some modes more than others, it manages to provide a lot of variety which is just what this genre needs.

Stuntfest

The big twist in Stuntfest is that you can launch your driver from your vehicle at any time. You’ll fly out through the windshield, eventually crashing into the ground. If you don’t summon your car back to you first. While certainly a maneuver that you can’t try at home, it provides a lot of freedom in level design and allows for some very cool new modes.

My time with Stuntfest, outside of a brief tutorial explaining the mechanics, was spent playing with others in a series of multiplayer modes, which did a great job of showing off all the different ways you can play it. First up was a mode where you have to get the most speed you can before launching your driver onto a sort of obstacle course. There are platforms that work as trampolines all over the place, and you can find power-ups which let you basically float around on a drone. The point is to get your driver as far down the course as you can, without the ability to summon your vehicle back to you. The level offered a lot of different twists and turns and while there was a slight learning curve, allowing as many attempts as possible within the time limit gave me time to really dig into it. If you aren’t quite going to make the next platform, you also have a handful of extra mid-air jumps to move you along. Realism certainly isn’t the goal here, but it was fun and not what I expected.

Stuntfest

Some of the modes are a tad basic. There was one that was just a race, though the course certainly had a few obstacles to overcome, while a later race was more of an obstacle course which was more about surviving the arena for longer than your opponents than just going fast. There was also a pretty basic destruction derby mode. While these aren’t exactly mind-blowing, the vehicles already control well, and I had fun managing to jump between them in the same gaming session. The developers have packed a lot in. The actual gameplay already feels great, except for when you find yourself on foot. Controls for those sections could use some tweaking still, but there’s certainly time since we don’t even have a release date yet.

That’s true for a series of glitches which I certainly hope will be figured out before release. There were consistent problems with things just not working, with core game functions stopping and not working again until the next event. A target mode where you drive your car to a ledge and then launch your driver as a sort of dart at a giant board seemed super creative, but I can’t say how fun it is because after the practice time ended and the event began, my driver would no longer launch for some reason. It worked again in the next event, though, and these are the sort of issues you often find in prerelease games, so I’m not worried about it, unless the game is a lot closer to release than we know.

Stuntfest

Maybe my most unexpected positive came from the game’s glider race. It reminded me a lot of a similar mode in last year’s Riders Republic, my least favorite part of what was otherwise a fun extreme sports title. While the comparison made me nervous going into this event, those worries were quickly put to rest. Already the gliders here control far better, allowing for tight maneuvers and some very cool stunts. I had a blast zipping around the sky and wish I could have spent more time with this mode.

While a few issues are normal at this stage of development, I came away from my time with Stuntfest – World Tour, largely feeling excited to see more of it. The team at Pow Wow Entertainment have something here, with strong controls and a ton of variety, that I think players are going to like whenever it’s ready to release. Hopefully, they’ll take the time they need to make sure everything is in top shape when it releases so Stuntfest can buck recent trends and prove this old genre still has life in it.

Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been writing about video games for nearly twenty years, contributing to publications such as DarkStation, Games Are Fun, and the E-mpire Ltd. network. He enjoys most genres but is always pulled back to classic RPG's, with his favorite games ever including Suikoden II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Phantasy Star IV. Don't worry though, he thinks new games are cool too, with more recent favorites like Hades, Rocket League, and Splatoon 2 stealing hundreds of hours of his life. When he isn't playing games he's often watching classic movies, catching a basketball game, or reading the first twenty pages of a book before getting busy and forgetting about it.

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