Simple Speedy Space Skiing

HIGH Unique atmosphere and concept.

LOW Controls feel clunky and unresponsive.

WTF The level editor.


Hi Everyone! Eugene Sax here with another review from

In a futuristic galaxy conquered by humans, we have stripped uninhabitable worlds of their resources and left them barren and pockmarked with with tunnels, slopes, and valleys. What to do with these otherwise useless planets, one may ask? Create a dangerous, adrenaline filled, rocket-powered sport, of course!

Enter Speedonauts from World Away Games.

In this arcade racer, players will compete to be the fastest in the world while racing from point to point across the abandoned mining planets humans have created. Every speedonaut gets gravity boots to increase momentum down hills and from high jumps, and a jetpack to help climb up hills. Each world will demand perfection from its players, and each level will have players fail, fail, and fail again before making it to the end, and that’s even before competing for the fastest time. Outside of the base game, there’s also a level editor to let players create their own abandoned planets to share with the online community.

From the start Speedonauts showed a lot of promise, but there are a few things that keep it from reaching the heights it’s setting out to achieve.

While the controls are simple, it feels like they’re not quite sharp enough to get the job done. There were times when the game seemed to eat an input at a critical moment, causing an otherwise good run to fail. With the emphasis on speed, precision, and perfecting controls, the controls also felt floaty and loose, oftentimes making precision impossible.

The other thing that gets to me are the levels themselves. If you think of skiing as a comparison, there aren’t a lot of verbs for the player to use unless the developers want to get into something that feels a little more intricate. For example, something combo- or trick-based like a Tony Hawk. The developers don’t want to go that route, but in sticking to a simpler formula, it feels like the level variety loses steam in Speedonauts fairly quickly. Everything is about big jumps, jumping them at just the right time, and trying to land perfectly to get the most speed. As such, many of the levels felt similar to each other, and it doesn’t help that every area has blue-grey earth, white snow and neon green mining lights — there’s nothing distinct in the visuals.

The level editor is a nice addition to the content and using it gave me an appreciation for level design. Interestingly, part of working with the level editor is controlling the camera and how it moves to follow the player manually. While it took a bit of time to get used to how it all worked, it was satisfying to dig into these systems and make my own levels. However, I wish there was some way to ensure that levels are able to be completed before allowing them to be uploaded. While most of the community levels I tried were fine, I did find some that were impossible to complete.

Speedonauts is an entertaining romp though used-up and abandoned planets, but repetitive level design and imprecise controls quickly got me wanting to settle for any medal, just so I could move on and see what the next level had to offer — but ultimately, there wasn’t enough here to keep me in and going for gold.

Speedonauts gets 6.5 desolate planets out of 10.

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by World Away Games.  It is currently available on Steam. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer options.

Parents: This game is not rated by the ESRB. There is no gore, no language, no violence: just racing and fast times. Approved for all ages.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Text is sparse in the game, and text is not resizable. Music is for atmosphere only and not necessary for the game. This game is fully accessible. 

Remappable controls: Controls are not remappable.

Eugene Sax
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