Review: REKT! High Octane Stunts

6 Nov 2020

We seem to have a bit of a car game trend going on here at Gamer Escape. No complaints there. You may be surprised to learn that I enjoy me a good car game, especially those of the less realistic, more arcade-style variety.

Today’s title seems to synergize with that, so let’s dive right into things with REKT: High Octane Stunts for Steam, developed by Little Chicken Game Company and published by No Gravity Games.

Spin to Win

REKT is a third-person driving game with a simple premise. Drive around various abstract arenas and use the ramps, loops, walls and other objects to launch your car through the air and spin or flip to perform stunts, while hopefully landing on your wheels and thereby scoring points. Crash into something or land on your top and you get “REKT” and lose all the points from your trick combo.

The game plays an awful lot like Rocket League as far as controlling your car and some of the level design elements. You can press keys to flip your car forward/backward or spin it left/right, you can use boost power to speed up and get more airtime, etc. Just… there’s no ball. It’s just you, the arena, and the clock. The simple controls make the game easy to pick up.

Whenever you perform maneuvers successfully, you earn points, but they aren’t added to your score right away. As long as you keep doing stuff, be it spinning, drifting, crashing through boxes or driving through gates, you can chain together more tricks and increase your score multiplier. This raises the stakes a lot and makes the experience more thrilling to a degree, since you’ll also unlock more cars and features by scoring higher.

One key issue here, though, is many level elements (like the floating platforms) are underutilized or don’t really facilitate high scoring moves, so you’ll usually do most of your tricks by simply driving off the small humps all over the floors of the arenas.

The problem here is, in today’s age of more elaborate titles with tons of features, huge worlds to explore and such in almost every genre, it’s hard to get really excited about just chasing a high score. And with only four levels (plus a fifth as DLC), the number of high score lists there are for you to dominate is limited. I feel like this really limits the long term replay value.

The levels don’t seem all that complex, so I feel like there could easily be more of them. There are plenty of cars though. You unlock many as you play, and some are better than others. Some are downright useless though, like the street sweeper vehicle which is too slow to get any air time. If there were high scores per car, this would create some interesting challenges, but alas, it’s another missed opportunity.

The good news is, if scoring high by itself doesn’t do it for you, you can compete with other players on the leaderboards, or play Party mode, with a variety of ways to play in local multiplayer (or use Steam’s Remote Play Together feature to play online). While I could not fully evaluate these modes without others to play with, I did mess around with each of the party modes – Virus, Capture the Crown, and Checkpoint – which seem like good fun and encourage interactions that just aren’t possible in the single player mode.

On a related note, I feel like there was a missed opportunity here: I would have liked to see AI opponents. It would increase the tension, trying to outscore an opponent playing at the same time. When you’re playing the Score mode, you’re just in a static arena by yourself. The game tries to make this as exciting as it can, but the levels are mostly static aside from some objects you can crash into and push around. Having other cars in play in single player would have really added to the fun factor.

Let’s Dance

REKT features a simple and clean visual style. The arenas and the cars themselves are brightly-colored and avoid clutter. The color of the entire arena itself also changes based on how things are playing out on your run, which is somewhat functional but makes the arena feel more like a dance floor. Each level looks very similar and they don’t have much in the way of varying art assets to set themselves apart; once you see the first level, you’ve mostly seen the others. Overall, the graphical style is nice but lacks variety.

The game features vehicle damage effects but they’re pretty limited, mostly just darkening and slightly crumpling the car in four quadrants. It’s okay, but I’ve seen much better, even in racing games that aren’t about realism. The cars themselves also don’t feel like they fit the environments. It seems weird for these orange, green and purple muscle cars to be driving around in what sometimes feels like a psychedelic Virtual Boy land.

On the sound front, there’s not a lot to say really. REKT features a reasonably good, high-energy soundtrack to facilitate excitement, but when the game just isn’t that exciting to start, its power to excite you has limits. In addition, the game features an announcer voice that was either recorded at a poor sampling rate or had a few too many effects filters applied, as the voice is nearly incomprehensible at times, with the exception of it constantly declaring “Your car is outta control!” for no apparent reason that I can see.

On A Collision Course

There is certainly some fun to be had with REKT, but it almost feels like it was made to cash in on a meme. It just doesn’t try hard enough to be a complete game. A bunch of cars to unlock and change the spoilers on just isn’t enough to extend the relatively low amount of actual gameplay.

When you’re basically the only thing in any of the arenas that moves, the environments ultimately end up feeling dull as well. On the plus side, the game felt relatively free of bugs and issues, but it just really lacks enough substance. The multiplayer mode is potentially a blast, but it’s local (or Steam Remote Play Together) only, which again is a big missed opportunity, as I question the likelihood you’ll be able to find three real-life friends willing to play this unknown game with you.

REKT is a game that has some potential, but ultimately suffers from being very light on content while seemingly missing every chance to realize that potential. If you like the idea of playing a slimmed-down version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater meets Rocket League with cars instead of skateboards, you can certainly get some enjoyment out of this. But I think that’s a pretty niche audience for a game in today’s market.

~ Final Score: 5/10 ~

Review Copy provided by No Gravity Games for PC. Screenshots taken by reviewer.