Game: Speed Crew
Genre: Party, Strategy, Simulation, Multiplayer
System: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam (Windows & Linux), PS4 & Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: Wild Fields Limited
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E
Price: UK £16.75 | US $19.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: June 8th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Big Games Machine.
Start Your Engines
The co-op indie renaissance continues with Speed Crew, a co-op-centric action title where you and your buddies need to work against the clock to fix up some cars. One could say this is Overcooked with cars. If you need a good fun co-op experience to enjoy with some friends locally, online or a combination of the two, then this comes highly recommended for your next game night.
You play as a group of mechanics specializing in fixing up race cars. Starting in the year 1977, a rival company challenges you to be the best pit stop mechanics. Fixing up the most cars as the tournament progresses. Interestingly you take on multiple tournaments across different decades, yet your characters never age. They must be on one heck of a diet or exercise plan. Or maybe being a mechanic is the route to a long youthful life? You’re led by an older mentor who boldly claims that he can screw a wheel into a car simply by looking at it. A joke the game will constantly revisit throughout the story to the point your eyes will roll like a car wheel.
It’s a story that doesn’t take itself very seriously, presented with small bite-sized cutscenes to not interfere with the gameplay. Graphics have a simple 3D comic feel that is suitable for all audiences. The most notable attention to detail is observing the different cars as you make your way through the different decades. The music offers a decent upbeat score, nothing memorable, but it gives the feeling you’re on a race track. Then again, you may be too busy shouting at your friends anyway.
Grab Your Wrench
The goal of each level is to fix up as many cars as possible within a set time limit. It’s a design similar to other co-op games, such as Overcooked. The general flow of a level sees a car or two park up. You diagnose the issue on a computer which is then highlighted on the car, for example, a damaged wheel. Then you fix the said issue and press a button to send the car on its way, ready for the next. Fixing cars in order will net you a combo and a higher score. Take too long to fix a car, and you incur a penalty. You’ll still need to fix it; otherwise, the car will just sit there. The more cars you fix, the higher your score, with the ideal result being the gold cup, which makes a refreshing change from the usual 3-star rating.
Each level gradually introduces new gameplay mechanics, such as changing a tyre, fixing the engine and hammering out dents. Car issues are randomly generated, so you constantly need to evaluate the situation and change things up on the fly. Fixing up the cars is not the only hazard you have to contend with. If you’re not careful, you can be run over by other cars racing through the level, deal with fires that need to be put out with a fire extinguisher, and there’s even the odd lava pit. Who knew being a mechanic was so dangerous?
I dragged my wife and best friend into playing this with me, and we quickly got into the flow of the whole experience without having to communicate too much with each other. When we did communicate, it was often to designate specific roles. Times did get stressful, but I’m pleased to report we remained friends. We are very well-versed in these games, and my comrades have seen me through many a co-op game, both good and bad.
To get the gold in each level is quite a welcome challenge, but you only need to obtain the bronze to progress further, which is not too taxing. If you obtain silver and gold in all levels, you will unlock additional levels and characters as you progress. None of the characters have special perks; everyone is on the same playing field.
Controls and Online
Controls are simple to pick up and use, the main features being a pickup button, a user button and a slap button which is not just used to be nasty to your teammates. We did come across a few niggles during our playthrough. While the controls are responsive, it was hard to pick up the correct item to use on the car since they tend to be quite small and can clutter together. An example, when changing a wheel, it wasn’t uncommon to mix the wrench and a new tyre up. The same problem happened with the portable gas station confusing the petrol pump with the handle to move it around the map. Another small niggle is the issues with the car would sometimes blend into the car themselves. So a severely dented panel would highlight red but put that on a red car, and it’s quite hard to identify the issue.
Niggles on TV Mode
All the niggles above were noted in TV mode and only made worse if you decide to brave the game in portable mode. Another issue is the methods to fix issues change frequently and without warning. For example, to deal with a dent, you’ll either use a hammer, a plunger or a portable polisher. It would have been helpful if the game could just give you a few minutes before the level starts to get your bearings. Often we just restarted the level after messing around for a bit. Though irritating and sometimes affecting our score, none of the issues deterred from our enjoyment of playing together.
Local Co-op and Online
I was fortunate enough to test this game in local co-op and online. Additionally, I am very pleased to report that you can combine these elements on Switch. I could play with my wife locally and a buddy in America online, all in the same game with good stability. Online requires the use of a code and didn’t offer matchmaking with randos during the review period. My friend online did report the odd glitch here and there, including an amusing one where our characters just floated in the air forever that sadly didn’t present on my screen. These were fortunately rare, and with a restart of the level, they didn’t repeat. I tried the game in single-player, but as is often the case with games like this, it feels a bit lonely. You work alone with no AI assistance. It just lacks the thrill of playing with others, but I’ll commend the developers for including it.
The game offered four main campaigns with ten levels and two unlockable bonus levels during the review. An arcade mode is touted as coming soon on the main menu, but this wasn’t available to test during review and appears to be coming post-launch. Overall, this is a decent package that lasted several gaming nights for me and my co-op crew.
Conclusion: Finishing With a Few Dents
Speed Crew is another recommended game to add to the co-op game night. As is often the case with these games, this is not recommended for those venturing alone. With other players, the experience is fun and addictive. A few niggles hold it back from top-tier greatness, with items appearing a bit too small on screen, and it’s sometimes hard to tell what exactly needs fixing on the car due to colours blending together. However, my friends and I could look past these and still thoroughly enjoyed our time with it. Speed Crew makes it through the finish line with some dents but still takes first place as a co-op game.
Final Verdict: I Like it
You can try the game for yourself before purchasing it with a free demo available on the eShop.