Developer: Bit Loom Games
Release Date: 26 January, 2023
Platform: Windows, Switch
By Chris Picone, 26 January, 2023
Tray Racers - At first the name made me think of "ray tracers" but then I remembered the days of my misspent youth skiing on McDonalds serving trays while a hanging onto the back of an EB Falcon for dear life. I was lucky enough to play Tray Racers with the developers and the team from Player Two PR, and I've gotta say the experience was pretty similar, only with more cactuses. Pro tip: You definitely want to get a bunch of mates together for this one.
Cartoony low-poly graphics with lots of warm, bright colours. So we're up for a bit of light-hearted fun, then. The levels play out more like a ski slalom game than a racing game and the world seems absolutely huge around you. Also features a nice little camp with a fireplace and an old banged up van at the top of the hill which makes a nice little hub between games to change your appearance, play some instruments, and see what other mischief you can get up to.
Fast-paced multiplayer fun, right out of the gate. Predominantly the game is played by leaning forward (downhill) or back (uphill) to maximise speed while trying to steer and plot the best course. However, there's also lots of little powerups and tricks peppered through the courses (geysers, wind tunnels, helicopters). The actual competitions are a little strange: You initially play through the same level over and over in a series of uncontrolled practice runs (as opposed to heats), and then there's a final race. Weirdly, both the best practice time and the final race time are combined to determine the overall winner. The levels are varied and very fun; each run consists of three biomes and the courses are procedurally generated for maximum replayability. I really enjoyed the cactus, village, and hot springs biomes, but there's plenty to check out and they're all pretty cool. Finally, there's also a weekly challenge where you can play on a seeded run that doesn't change so you can really try to nail down the fastest score to beat your mates.
If you enjoy multiplayer racing games, definitely give this one a lash. The competitions are a little strange but the races are fun and, in any case, it's free, so your best bet is to grab a bunch of your mates and all jump on together. If you do enjoy the game you can throw the devs a few dollars for a supporter pack which unlocks some fun aesthetic options.