RUSHAWAY by Ninestudios
RUSHAWAY is a speedy platformer with bite-sized vertical levels built around tall rectangular structures. These towers serve as hosts for an array of platforming challenges that the protagonist, Speck, must navigate. With more than 50 levels to explore – each holding a hidden collectible that unlocks a piece of lore – there’s plenty of platforming adventure to enjoy in RUSHAWAY.
The narrative of RUSHAWAY is established with a short opening sequence that explains how two civilizations, one living high in the towers, the other below on the surface of the world, lived in harmony until a great shadow of cloud cut the surface off from the sky. A series of collectible lore items slowly expand on what has happened to Speck’s world Speck ascends higher, exploring the many towers.
Just Rush Upward
Little tutorial is provided or needed. Speck’s movements are relatively limited: left, right, and jump. When ascending or descending a vertical surface it’s possible (and often necessary) to push in the desired direction to maintain speed.
Momentum is crucial, and once lost, it can be tricky to regain. In this way RUSHAWAY calls back to the original Sonic the Hedgehog; a platformer where speed is as important as it is easy to lose. Without a tool like Sonic’s traditional “spin dash,” it’s sometimes necessary to backtrack to have enough space to gain speed for an ascent.
At top speed RUSHAWAY can be satisfyingly intense; quick reactions are necessary as the rectangular structure rotates, revealing new obstacles and threats. A small niggle in a game built around punchy, fast-paced retries is the slight delay between attempts; the interface is a little sluggish, and in a subgenre where quick restarts have become the standard this is a little frustrating, albeit a minor issue. Once Speck is on the move each level feels like a worthy challenge.
Specks of Beauty
The aesthetics of Rushaway are well crafted; a mysterious tone runs through everything from the soundtrack to the wonderfully drawn backgrounds of each of the collectible lore pages.
The stages themselves are also full of character, ranging from a grassy theme to fiery and icy towers. These different themes come with new challenges and obstacles as well: surfaces that grow hotter the longer you stand on them (quickly killing poor Speck), thorny spikes waiting at the end of drops, and more.
RUSHAWAY is a well-designed platformer with satisfyingly bite-sized levels. The difficulty curve is well balanced, and later levels provide a tough challenge that makes use of the minimalistic premise very well.
The speedy action is hampered by occasional losses of momentum and a sluggish interface, but these are minor concerns with simple solutions: a way of launching Speck back to medium speed would be a welcome update. Despite these small complaints, RUSHAWAY is fun to play and crafts an interesting world to learn about with its engaging lore drops and cryptic aesthetic.
Any platforming fan will find a selection of challenging, well-paced levels to explore here.
RUSHAWAY is available via Steam.