Review – Wincars Racer (Early Access)

Wincars Racer screenshot
Review – Wincars Racer (Early Access)

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Wincars Racer

Publisher: DragonJam Studios

Developer: DragonJam Studios

Genre: Action, Racing

Release Date: November 18th, 2016

Wincars Racer from DragonJam Studios

The racing genre has always been a fairly saturated group of games with a set of core franchises dominating the scene. Depending on the particular flavor of racing you’re seeking there’s something for everyone ranging from the likes of Gran Turismo for realism to the ever-present Mario Kart for unrestrained, playful joy. Wincars Racer sets out to offer something new: a high speed, action-focused racing game that balances fun powers with a fairer system eschewing the usual random pick-ups of many kart racers.

Wincars strives to level the playing field in kart racing by introducing a MOBA-inspired system of cooldown-based powers. All racers have access to a recharging boost, an area of effect blast and the ability to drift. A final power is determined by which of six racers the player chooses, and this power is charged up by collecting items on the track.

Character Versus Car Actor

I found this to be an interesting twist on the kart racing system, but I wish the developers had gone all the way in their desire to fuse MOBA concepts with racing. A wider array of characters, each bringing their own selection of four powers to the game, would have been fantastic. As it is, this feels like a half-executed concept.

Despite the unfulfilled potential of the idea behind Wincars, I still had a good time trying out the six different racers. The powers on offer are fun, if a little uninspired (a few examples include the ability to drop an oil slick, a second boost and a song which slows down all nearby cars).

After a little experimenting, I found that the racer offering a second boost felt very strong, as the extra ground gained using this ability is considerable.

Two game modes are on offer; a time attack mode challenging the player to reach checkpoints to refresh their remaining time and an online racing mode. The latter is more enjoyable, although in my time playing I didn’t come across any other players. Thankfully, the game replaces absent players with bots, and these AI racers make for decent opponents, taking shortcuts and driving aggressively. It’s a shame that the servers are so quiet.

I even noted that after a little effort I was second in the UK on the leaderboard – evidence of a rather small player-base at the moment. I note that the developers are aware of this issue, however, and that they are arranging special events to draw players in at particular times of the week.

There is plenty to unlock in Wincars Racer: 30 cars and plenty of skins. The tracks are also locked at the beginning, with only one being available initially. I thought this was a misstep, as it unnecessarily limits options for new players and makes the game feel diminutive. I want to be dazzled by the options on offer when I start a new game, not restricted to one track until I have saved up enough resources to unlock the next (several races are necessary to gain the currency to buy a second circuit).

The aesthetics of Wincars Racer are of a reasonable quality; the tracks are certainly dynamic and varied. The racers themselves are a little bizarre in their presentation, but they have character. The music is similarly variable; I really enjoyed the backing tracks for a couple of the circuits, but I found that when I used a racer’s power a new, more aggressive piece of music would kick in and sometimes replace the main music for a circuit indefinitely. I believe this to be something of a bug which should hopefully be fixed in time.

Grinding Gears

Wincars Racer is built upon an appealing idea: bringing the tactical systems of a MOBA to the racing circuit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go far enough in pursuing this goal and is instead merely a decent racing game. It also doesn’t throw enough of its assets at the player early enough, instead hoarding its tracks behind an unlock system that makes the game feel drip-fed.

Wincars Racer is still in Early Access and should hopefully grow. If it can pick up enough players and the developers expand the content on offer this could be a solid and engaging competitive racer.

Wincars Racer is available on Steam.

[xrr rating=”3.5/5″]

Check out the trailer for the Wincars Beta below: