I can’t help but think that if you told a typical PC-owning racing game fan that Rush Rally Origins is a port of a mobile phone release, they would run a mile.
However, let me frame it another way – Rush Rally Origins is one of the finest virtual rally driving experiences, period, regardless of platform or origins.
Now, I hope I have your attention, let’s dive in and see why this two-person developed top-down driving game is worthy of your time and investment.
First, a very brief history lesson. Brownmonster Games is the mastermind of solo indie developer Stephen Brown, who has previously created three Rush Rally games for mobile devices and worked on many varied titles such as GTi Club+ and the PSP version of Split/Second.
The series took a giant leap forward with Rush Rally 3 – a third-person or cockpit cam rallying title released in 2020 for Android, iOS and Nintendo Switch.
Then, expanding to a two-person development team, they took the Rush Rally 3 game technology and re-made the first-ever Rush Rally game in this top-down form. Thus Rush Rally Origins was born last year.
What you have here is a predominately a stage rally game, racing against the clock with a co-driver shouting out the upcoming route from either a top-down helicopter chase camera or an isometric viewpoint. This, by the way, can be changed on the fly mid-stage to your preference.
The cars and locations are fictional but grounded in reality. If you know a little about the real-world rally discipline, you will recognise the shapes and sounds of some familiar vehicles. Your computer-controlled rivals too are inspired by some famous names. Colon McRay, anyone?
Alongside the traditional stage events, there’s also racing against opponents point-to-point and a time trial mode that incorporates online leaderboards and ghost downloads of the top times.
The aim is to simply blast through the main Championship mode as quickly as possible, with six stages per location and each subsequent location unlocking as your progress. Vehicles and upgrades such as enhanced suspension or braking performance are also earned simply by driving – more miles equal more rewards.
This all sounds rather perfunctory, but where Rush Rally Origins excels is the driving experience. The vehicle handling is sublime, rewarding precision but at the same time cleverly designed to allow some leeway.
This is married with level design that provides tracks that are just the right width to get away with overly ambitious corner entry speed.
Progress is mercifully forgiving but there’s always a dash of peril. All stages are sub-two minutes in length, which means you can snack away at the career when the time suits you – an advantage of the portable beginnings perhaps – and deliciously moreish.
But it also means small errors can have a significant ranking effect, due to their tight nature.
There’s a mixture of asphalt, snow and gravel, day and night, dry or wet. Each location has its own unique style, each vehicle an individual driving characteristic.
Transitioning from the Switch, a version we included in our ‘Best Games of 2021’ rundown, this new PC iteration runs in a remarkably similar fashion. That’s not downplaying the Steam release, rather pumping up the tyres of the game code, as even on Nintendo’s diminutive platform it ran at a rock-solid 60 frames per second and had several PC-style visual fidelity options from the off.
It’s not power-intensive either. We tested it on a powerful desktop PCs, but also on a humble mid-spec gaming laptop that is predominantly used for writing not playing, and even it was able to run everything on the ultra settings.
There are perhaps more aesthetically pleasing rival games out there from a colour pallet perspective, but the devil is in the details.
You can see your driver and co-driver working away, drive over some bumps on the inside of a corner and each wheel behaves independently and stage-side barriers and signs deform should you be unfortunate to hit them.
As your car becomes enveloped in a layer of dust you soon realise that it’s distinctive enough to stand out in a now crowded marketplace.
New for this launch are stages in the USA and Japan. They are included in the base game on PC and will be available as a paid addition on existing mobile platforms. These are arguably the most diverse locations yet, with the American routes lined with autumnal trees and Japan a cherry blossom. They also seem to be bigger in scope, not in terms of stage length, but in terms of scenery variety.
Once you’ve worked your way through the Championship using D Class vehicles, you can then return with C, B and A and the speed really ratchets up. The handling characteristics noticeably change with upgrades too, but despite this perhaps the progression system is a little too basic.
However, the simplicity as a whole and laser-focussing on a superlative driving experience means that Rush Rally Origins is an ideal slice of rallying nirvana and I’m very pleased to say it makes just as much sense on an expensive PC as it does on a Nintendo Switch.
The smooth car handling, visual detail that belies its humble basis and beguiling rally-mad theme shine through to make this an essential purchase.
|Developer||Stephen Brown and George Brown, Brownmonster Games|
|Release date||14th April 2022 (PC) – Switch, Android, Amazon and iOS in 2021|
|Available platforms||PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, Amazon and iOS|
|Best played with||Game pad|