A hundred Halloween horrors start this way: driving through the wilds, a vehicle becomes stuck and its driver faces a harrowing ordeal. Will they escape and live to see another dawn or will they be found in a shallow grave? A hundred Halloween horrors may start this way but few are nearly as tense and trying as Spintires: MudRunner, which launched overnight. It's an expanded re-release of 2014's fantastic driving-through-mud simulator Spintires, which comes fancied up a little but most importantly freed from the troubled relationship with previous publishers Oovee. MudRunner is a separate paid release, not a free upgrade, though Spintires owners do get a discount.
Like Spintires, MudRunner is a game of driving off-road vehicles over rough terrain, scrambling over rocks, ploughing through rivers, and getting stuck in wonderfully cruel dynamic mud. It's... a tactile puzzle game? As our Adam said in his original Spintires review in 2014:
"In Spintires' world, feats are measured by inches of control rather than miles per hour, and the terrain churns and deforms as vehicles traverse it. It's a game in which overapplication of the throttle can doom the driver. It's verbs are not overtake, drift and vroom, but churn, grind and calculate. The latter is perhaps the most important. For all of that it is made of mess and mud, Spintires is a game of precision and care. To traverse the changing angles of the roughest terrain, every nudge of wheel and pedal must be perfectly timed and measured."
MudRunner improves on that with a little prettying-up, a new challenge mode, new vehicles, a new UI, camera tweaks, a new sandbox map, and other odds and ends.
Why is this a re-release rather than an update? Because the game has changed hands. Creator Pavel Zagrebelny and publishers Oovee had a deeply troubled relationship, with years of open hostility and suspicion which even led to the game eventually being pulled from sale. Much like any truck I'm driving, updates stalled. Getting Spintires away from that is good, raising hopes for future additions. Zagrebelny is now working on it with Saber Interactive, while Focus Home Interactive have taken over publishing. And this also sees the game arrive on consoles.
Spintires: MudRunner is out now for £24.99/€29.99/$29.99 on Steam. People who own the original Spintires get a 50% discount on MudRunner. It's not the biggest re-release discount I've seen nor is it the smallest.