Wired Productions have been on it of late, releasing awesome indie title after awesome indie title. While Caged Element’s Grip, like many other recent games of theirs, has been on our radar for a while, it is finally out now. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy of Grip for the Switch.
In many ways Grip doesn’t revolutionise the “Combat Racer” sub-genre of racing games. At its core, you race at break-neck speeds, picking up power-ups, and doing whatever it takes to bring home first place. At its heart its a really fast paced, gritty, mario kart – but without the cartoonesque art-style, and with real world weaponry!
But if its not broke, why fix it?
The Combat Racer genre is always going to be a barrel of laughs, and Grip is no exception! The “gimmick” (for lack of a better term) of Grip is just that, the grip, that the cars have. Through the hefty tires the cars are rocking, to the “incredible downforce” the cars exert while travelling at speeds upwards of 600mph means that they can stick to any flat surface they’re travelling upon while maintaining that speed.
Maintaining that speed is the key point in that sentence! You might be able to get a slightly faster route by traversing up a wall, or even onto a ceiling of a tunnel, but if you get hit by a well timed missile, or gatling gun shot, you could lose the speed required to keep your grip on the surface, and fall down to whatever is beneath you. Which might not be too bad if you’re in a tunnel, but if you’re upside down above a body of water… You’re in for a bad time my friend.
Grip also combines certain “RPG” elements, in that you gain experience for finishing events. From the placing you finished with, to your average speed, just about every metric related to the game can add to your experience bar. Which then goes to unlocking more cars, tires, and customisation options.
And like a giant off road speed crazy segway, we can use that to segue into talking about the pretty indepth vehicle customisation options. There are a whole bunch of different cars to unlock, easily twice that number of different style tires to unlock, with each car having a variety of decals to also unlock. The possibilities must be close to endless. Especially with full spectrum colour options for 2-3 paint colours per car, plus decal colours PLUS rim colours. Everyone will be able to come up with an aesthetic that suits their current mood. Or in my case that matches their favourite NFL team – SKOL Vikings! The slight downside is that due to the nature of the cars being able to ride upsidedown, the basic design of all the cars ends up being very similar – the only drasticly different one is the car that has 6 wheels instead of 4…
Something else that Grip does differently to most other combat racers I’ve played, is the campaign mode. It is split into “tiers”, with each tier having 3 or so tournaments, and each tournament having 3 or so events to play through within. Makes it a fair bit different to just playing a grand prix style format. The tiers gradually get more and more difficult, which often means the cars getting faster and faster, while also unlocking more and more game modes.
All the different game modes also give a huge amount of variety in creating custom games, for play via both offline and online multiplayer madness. You can play pretty much every game mode, on any map, normally or mirrored, at a variety of different weapon and speed settings, with car destrutction on or off, with varying numbers of opponents – pretty much anything goes! Throw in arena matches and carkour (parkour with cars) and you’ve certainly got enough game modes to keep you and your friends entertained.
Audio and visuals in Grip are solid. The soundtrack is the techno and rock you might expect from a game advertised as being “high octane”, but naturally it fits. The cars sound beefy as hell – you know when you’re going balls to the wall – or when another racer is coming up on your six. The visuals are great for an “indie” game, the huge levels are very detailed, and stunning to look at and with all the car customisations mean the cars look great too. But the best part of the visuals are the immersive feel of the HUD – when you get hit by stuff, be it other racers’ weapons, or even dangers on the tracks themselves, the HUD also gets a dose of the action – an example being getting hit by an electric bolt on one of the tracks, and the whole HUD getting distorted for a few seconds.
Grip is out now, priced at £29.99, and is well worth the money, especially on Switch where the game style shines for being out and about on the go, and/or meeting up with friends to play.