An endless runner with an ending?
The political way to start this review is by saying I’ve had mixed experiences with games released by The Audio Games Association. This would not be completely true though. I’ve only ever played Blind Quest, and that was entirely a bad experience.
Out comes Space Wave Race, and I’m a bit of a sucker for racing games. The price is good, and I figured it is well worth grabbing and playing with the intention of writing a review. It isn’t Blind Quest which is good, but it also isn’t really a racing game which isn’t good. Some folks will enjoy it, and because of that I’ll give away a copy of the game.
Space Wave Race Information
Developer: audio games Association
Release Date: May 28, 2020
Genre: Single player racing
Developer’s Description of Space Wave Race
LISTEN, MOVE AND SHOOT TO BEAT YOUR ENEMIES IN THE GREAT SPACE RACE
Fly through a myriad solar systems, space ruins, unknown engineering structures, asteroids and incandescent stars to win the battle. Be the first in this intrepid running race fighting your enemies. Prove what galactic material you are made of!
UNLOCK DIFFERENT TYPES OF SPACESHIPS
Enjoy the experience playing with different spaceships designed for battle. Unlock more spaceships by playing the game.
PLAY CHALLENGING GAME MODES
Includes several game modes with different complexities and gameplay: Championship Mode, Single Race Mode, Endless Galactic Mode.
DESIGNED TO BE ACCESSIBLE
Space Wave Race has been developed to be fully accessible, including modes for players with reduced mobility, visual and/or hearing impairment and dyslexia. Expressly created to enjoy the experience without losing a single detail in all conditions.
Lets Give It a Play
What Is The Game Really?
This is marketed as a racing game, so you might expect to be racing against other AI players, but it is more of a time trial on a kind of race track. You are the only space ship on the track, and you have to finish within a certain time which is unknown. The track is only three lanes wide, and there are walls on the borders which you need to avoid running into. There’s no shifting gears, or finer points of racing involved here, just hold down the gas and steer when it is required.
There’s a few things added into the race to add in a bit of challenge. You have asteroids which will randomly appear in one of the three lanes, and you need to navigate around them. There’s also other ships that pop up, but you don’t race them at all, you have to creep up behind them then shoot them. Finally there’s turns you have to navigate through, but they aren’t turns like you’d see on a race track. The track is three lanes wide, and the turns act more like a dog leg than an actual corner. If you need to turn right then the left most lane will disappear and an extra lane shows up to the right. This may happen once, twice, or four times. Steering is more like sliding to one side when necessary instead of turning through a corner.
The audio queues are done fairly well here. You have a sound to let you know when you are next to a wall, useful for when going through turns. The asteroids make a unique sound in the stereo field, good for knowing what lane you need to move into. Ships you need to shoot do make a unique sound, but it can be somewhat difficult to know what lane they are in at first. What I do here is switch lanes until I hear the targeting beep letting me know it is in front of my ship.
Finally the game does have pretty decent high contrast graphics. Most of the tracks are black with white dotted lines separating lanes. The asteroids are a bright glowing orange color. This makes them very easy to see coming, and makes picking a lane quite easy when there are more than one of them. The enemy ships are not easy to see, and I find it easier to find them with the gun’s targeting than my half-ass eyeballs. Overall I found it easy to play with low vision, mostly but not completely.
First Impressions and Review
The first impression of the game after activating is not good. You are met by a hyper synthesized voice that self voices the entire game. The voice is bad enough, but to add to it it’s spinning around in some mockery of HRTF or something similar. It is meant to be your AI, but the point is lost on me. It’s just bad, and it makes using the menus annoying. I have no idea why the game doesn’t just work with NVDA or SAPI, I guarantee the vast majority of blind players would prefer that. The voice speaks quite slow, and to add to it the menus have a laggy feel when moving through the options. Overall it just isn’t a good look or feel, and that’s before I’ve even played a single race.
The second red flag for me is the music. It is loud, and there is no way of adjusting it at all! This is probably my number one annoyance with the game, and that is saying a lot. Even something like Sequence Storm which is a game completely based on music allows you to adjust the volume of the music. Not having that option here is holy unacceptable. I prefer no music in a game when I’m playing it, and it makes me angry to be forced into listening to synthesized electronic music the entire time.
When I finally get into a race I really don’t know what to expect. I’m a bit skeptical at this point. The first thing that stands out is how high contrast the track is. Jet black with nice bright white dotted lines, it’s actually really easy to see. It also really drives home the point that this doesn’t feel like a racing game. I can’t move around freely on the track, I can switch lanes like I’m playing a forward progressing runner.
After a couple races the high contrast enjoyment has gone away. Some tracks are good, others are a bright pink or bright green color and I can’t see anything on them at all. I don’t know if it was an oversight, or intentional to make it hard to see. If it is unintentional that’s whatever, but if it was on purpose then it’s really ungood. Making something that low vision players can see just to take it away randomly makes none of the sense. I’m going to assume it was on accident, and just wasn’t realized by the developers.
After playing a few races I’m realizing this just isn’t for me. It isn’t a racing game, but a runner. You aren’t racing against anyone, and the things that make a game fit into the racing genre aren’t here. You can’t shift your car, it is just one speed that slowly ramps up. You don’t have anyone to race against, you are just going and hoping you finish in the top secret required time to be in first place. The steering is not steering, it is just lane switching, again just like a runner. You can’t race when you are simply swapping lanes. Racing is all about speeds, angles, shifting, and the angle and bank of the corners. This doesn’t have any of these requirements, so I find it difficult to call it a racing game. Not to mention you aren’t actually racing anyone.
When I was winding down on my races, I started to have more questions. Why am I racing a space ship on a black road? Who left these asteroids just sitting on the road? Why am I blowing up random ships, and why are they always in front of me but moving slower than I am? If this is in space why are there walls on the side of the track? If this isn’t in space what the hell are asteroids doing here? I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I wonder about them all the same.
Last time I reviewed a game by The Audio Games Association I didn’t have any suggestions because I hated the game so much. That isn’t the case here. Though the game has some foundational mechanical issues, there’s still a lot that could be done to make this feel more like a racing game, and not a runner.
First off…add in shifting. Having a racing game where there’s only 1 gear is not enjoyable. Unless we are racing snowmobiles it is just silly. Racing is all about timing, and understanding when to speed up or slow down. This game is just all speed up and stay going fast. Give us gears to move through and we can control our speed in a way that is more like racing.
Add in people to race against. Right now just moving forward towards the end of the track feels a lot like an endless runner that ends. yeah I know that doesn’t make sense, but it really is the feeling I get when playing. We should be racing against other ships, and we need the ability to check what place we are in. Then allow us to shoot the others and allow them to shoot us. This would make for a hell of a lot more fun and strategy when racing. If you are getting shot switch lanes and slow down, get behind them and shoot them instead. Have the others ships do the same and you have the start of something interesting here.
Fix the high contrast. Either make it customizable for each person to set on their own, or make all tracks black with white dotted lines. Keep the asteroids the same, but brighten up the contrast of other ships. It is really frustrating to not be able to see the ships you need to shoot until you are right on them.
Add in the ability for the player to turn down and turn off the music. It is really bad to have it playing at such a loud volume in the menu, and also during the race. I know a lot of developers are proud of their game music, but the reality is not all people want to hear it, they want to play the game not listen to music. Most folks listen to their own music when they want to, no one goes to play a game for the music.
Make the game also voice through a player’s own screen reader. Even if it is SAPI. Overall just get rid of the self voicing stuff. Blind people all have something that reads information to them already on their PC, and they are use to it. Allow the self voicing for folks on other platforms, and for those who want it, but also allow for screen reader voicing. I find this to be one of the most annoying things in any audio game. If it self voices I already assume I’m not going to like it.
Having a racing game that doesn’t automatically support a controller is ungood. I’d really like it if I could just grab a controller and start playing. This is both because it would be a better experience, and so I can play with my face close to my screen. That is a real pain in if you need a keyboard on your lap.
At this point everyone should expect the next bit. I seem to harp on this in every one of my reviews. Make the game have online races. It is still confusing to me why every single game doesn’t have this on release. A single player game is only interesting for as long as there’s levels to beat. It has a built in finite amount of content. If it has an online mode it is infinite, you can race against anyone and have fun even after the game has run out of single player content. This essentially makes the game last forever. If this stays single player will anyone be talking about it in a year? Now ask, do people still play Top Speed 3? Yes they do and purely because you can play online against friends, it makes a game last forever.
With a few adjustments this could actually be a decent game. A game both for someone who enjoys the mechanics of a racing game, and also for someone who wants something simpler. Right now it is only for the most casual of gamers. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t the type of game I’m looking for. If the developers run across this hopefully they take into account some of the suggestions and make something that’s a good middle of the road racing game.
5.5 / 10
Is it horrible? no it isn’t, but I wouldn’t call it all that good either. It is just a game you can play, nothing that stands out as being special to me. I was expecting a racing game and I got an endless runner that has an ending. There is room for improvement though, and it could be made into a playable racing game without corners. If you want a sort of racing game but you aren’t that into racing games this would actually be a perfect fit. I actually think there are folks out there who would really enjoy this game. It isn’t unenjoyable, it just isn’t a racing game. I really like racing games, I’m not a very big fan of endless runners, even if they have an ending.
Closed: The winners were @pool_prateek and @BrailleScreen.
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