Spintires: MudRunner, from Saber Interactive, is billed as the ultimate version of the hit game Spintires. In it you drive large trucks around in the mud as you explore around with the ultimate goal of delivering logs from a log pickup point to any sawmills in the map.
The main appeal of Spintires: MudRunner is the actual act of driving around in the mud and water, and while I don’t have experience doing so in real life, the game feels like I would imagine it would feel like. Driving slow, getting stuck, and using a winch to pull yourself out of situations or tow other vehicles behind you, is all a major part of the core gameplay.
The game features 6 maps that are quite large, but all essentially look the same aesthetically, muddy and dark, with the major differences being in the layouts. Along with the maps are 19 different vehicles to unlock as you progress.
The maps feel well designed, in look as well as in layout. There are many ways around the map, and some paths are more difficult to traverse than others. This adds a bit of strategy as you must plot out your route effectively or you risk damaging your vehicle or losing your cargo.
Besides just roaming around, finding garages and waypoints, and delivering logs, there isn’t much to do in each map and so there is no reward for playing them more than once after you have completed your objective. The fact that the main objective is the same on each map gives them all a similar feeling, and I wish that each map had a bit more diversity in them, rather than them being just different layouts of essentially the same thing.
Now the gameplay aspect I found to be a mixed bag, it is very slow at times and it felt like it dragged on and on. To its credit Spintires: MudRunner knows exactly what it is trying to do, and it does it quite effectively. The look and feel of the mud is superb, and the way the cars bounce and slide around works exactly like you would expect, as well as the mechanics of getting stuck and trying to get free.
That being said, this type of slow mud-driving gameplay is not for everyone, as the very slow nature of it felt like a drag to me. The most fun I had in the game was when I shirked all objectives I had and just drove as recklessly as I could, but compared to that the main objective of delivering wood just felt dull.
Along with the normal 6 maps there are smaller challenges which task you with completing differing objectives catered towards teaching you the basic game mechanics. As far as tutorials go this worked well, they were non-intrusive, and gave players the basic guidance and expected them to learn as they go.
I rather enjoyed some of these challenges, and bonus objectives add a bit more challenge for those looking for it, but sadly there didn’t seem to be any meaningful reward to completing them.
Spintires: MudRunner is a game I would consider geared towards a specific audience, those looking for a realistic simulation of driving in the mud. The game sticks to this premise completely, and for that I commend it, but it makes this a game not just anyone could enjoy. Speaking objectively however the gameplay feels and controls great, and those looking for that kind of experience will enjoy what it has to offer. 7.5/10
*This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, it is also available on PS4 and PC*