Spintires: Mudrunner is a realistic off-road driving simulator. In it, you will drive through marshes, rough roads, and forests to gather logs and deliver them to lumber mills. This isn’t normally the type of game I would play, but I figured it would be worth trying. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it for its level of difficulty, realistic gameplay and graphics,

In the wild, taking a wrong turn can be unforgiving.

Having known nothing about this game before I played it, I was expecting something a bit more arcadey than it is. Instead, this game is a realistic off-road driving simulator that can be brutally unforgiving if you make a mistake. You have to be precise with your steering, and take things slow as you drive through desolate terrain. Taking a turn too sharply can cause serious body and engine damage by colliding with something. If you have to hitch a trailer in some mud and take to many attempts to line it up, you will get stuck in the mud. If you are lucky enough, you can use your winch to pull you out afterward, but you won’t always be so lucky.

You will have to explore each map one meter at a time to find the best path to the logging sites. You are able to uncover parts of the map by driving through them or going to lookout points. This can make the process of procuring logs easier. The maps may show what looks like a road for easy travel. However,  these are usually creek beds that are “somewhat” dry. Driving through soggy terrain isn’t easy, especially when towing a trailer. When you find a clear path, it is usually a marsh where you can’t move fast; or it contains very tight turns which also limits your speed. The terrain makes you plan out your routes meticulously.

The level of detail that is required to make a successful delivery shows the dedication the developers put into level design.

The gameplay is difficult, yet rewarding. It is enjoyable and satisfying to successfully navigate a treacherous path to gather your cargo and deliver it. As crazy as it sounds, I felt as though I accomplished something by delivering a load of wood. I think that is one of the features that makes this a good game.

The graphics of Spintires were a pleasant surprise.

One of the first things I noticed about this game were how dreary, yet realistic the graphics were. In this case, dreary isn’t a bad thing. It fits the game mechanics well because dreary areas usually have rain, which makes for difficult off-roading. The art style of the vehicles and the terrain are both very well done. I especially liked the level of detail put into the ground. There are various obstacles such as logs and large rocks. In most games, these would be more or less cosmetic, but not in Spintires. Instead, that 8 inch rock on the side of a trail could prevent you from turning.

The small details in the terrain can completely wreck your day if you don’t pay attention to them.

In most games, the terrain is aesthetic. However, in Spintires, the ground, trees, and streams are more than just works of art; they are also obstacles that can wreck your ride. The landscapes are beautifully drawn and calming. While driving through a difficult woodland area, it is nice to sit and marvel in the serenity of the landscapes. The combination of graphics for art’s sake and enhancing gameplay doesn’t end there. It’s also shown in the build up of mud on your tires, and your truck sinking in the ground if you have to move back and forth in a small area too much. You will see your truck dig itself into the muck.

 It isn’t common to see the art style take such an integral role in the gameplay, but in Spintires the visual queues show you when trouble is on it’s way!

Overall, Spintires: Mudrunner is a very well made game. The game modes are somewhat limited and repetitive though. If you are interested in driving simulators I recommend this game. It can be frustratingly difficult at times but that is a nice change from other driving games. You can find it on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and on Nintendo Switch in November. For challenging gameplay and realistic graphics, I give Spintires: Mudrunner a 3.25 out of 5.

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