A hilarious party game that focuses on chaotic cooperation between players. The task of the pit crew is to inspect arriving cars and perform quick repair services while navigating intricate levels. To succeed and beat their bitter rival, players must help each other and build tactics for each race.
Publisher: Wild Fields
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also available for: PC [Q3 2023]
Cast: Christopher Hernandez, Rich Daigle, Ravin Wong, Shantaya Fonseca, Kelsey Painter, Devin Baird, Derek Daisey, Maggie Ross, Dahlia Vianne, Katie Harvey
Developer: Wild Fields
Executive Producer: Oleg Kozak
Game Vision: Andrii Panchenko
Designers: Sviatoslav Vasylyshyn, Ivan Kulikov, Dmytro Linnyk
Overcooked-inspired games are becoming their own genre, and with the rising popularity of something like Drive To Survive and then the F1, an Overcooked-inspired car game seemed all but inevitable. But like all games that chase the same vibes and schtick that another caught worldwide success with, there will always be those that fail and those that come up to the task. And although Speed Crew lacks the overall wholesome vibes and “it-factor” that made Overwatch a sensation, Speed Crew is one of the best to chase that franchise’s success.
Speed Crew is designed to be played with friends either on the couch or online with up to three other friends. You can play this game solo, but it sucks the fun right out of the game, and I wouldn’t recommend it at all.
Things start simple in Speed Crew as you have cars pull into your pit stop. Use a jack to get the car up, a socket wrench to remove the tyre, and either repair it or throw it out instead of another. Reading that, I’m sure you can see how the timing and placement of different players can turn the action on the screen to mimic that of a real pit stop while playing alone… well, it’s a mess.
As you progress further in Speed Crew, not only do the ways you interact with cars increase in difficulty but so do the levels you’re playing in, and your pit stops become less and less safe. Engine removals, fuel refills and move require an assortment of tools, and their placement can be a game of Frogger. Taking a jerry can across a road to fill it will see you dodging other race cars speeding by, while different levels see you have to communicate with friends to win to open gates or move in and around an area as a car drifts around it. You won’t fail a level if you’re hit by a car, but you’ll drop what you’re carrying and respawn back where you started the level.
Levels can get clogged up with items as you have to move something like an engine or tyre around and put down wrenches, jacks, fuel cans, fuel stations, fire extinguishers, and more. I can appreciate that keeping track of where you place your tools is a part of the game. Still, I did feel like having even one of the core items attached to all the characters and just balancing out the difficulty based on the decision would have been better than the mess that can be level with four players, 5-6 tools and cars flying around the roads around you.
As all Overcooked super-fans know, it’s one thing to beat a level, but you’ve only really beaten it once you’ve got 3 Star scores, which is the same in Speed Crew. Chasing those illustrious high scores will take commitment with a crew, especially on the later levels in the game, which requires upwards of five or more tools to remove things from vehicles, let alone to replace the parts.
I played the better part of my time with Speed Crew in online co-op and saw myself through a selection of levels at the start and end of the game solo. In solo, I didn’t encounter any issues outside the general desire not to play it until I had friends to play with; however, when playing online in a group, we did encounter a couple of network issues where a player wouldn’t load into a level, or drop out and was unable to rejoin. This could be a Nintendo Switch issue, as I haven’t tested the game elsewhere.
I mentioned the game doesn’t have the same wholesome vibes that helped make Overcooked a success, but there’s some fun to be had here. The art style is pleasant but doesn’t have the same pleasantness on the eyes Overcooked does. Speed Crew does, however, have fun with its storyline, which spans the 1970s up to the 2010s with the same set of characters, who apparently don’t age. There’s a character named Dominion Torrento and plenty of Fast & Furious jabs which I quite enjoyed as a fan of the movies, but I don’t expect much from the story other than a narrative setting for the game’s four ‘worlds,’ each with ten core levels.
Although Speed Crew can initially seem confusing, once you click, you’ll be yelling, “Pass the 3/4 torque wrench!” l