Summertime can be a notorious dry season for gaming, and despite the wealth of quality releases we’ve had this year (with several highly anticipated titles still to come), 2018 has not escaped the drought. For one game in particular, this slower season was the perfect time to rush into the sun-bleached spotlight. Onrush is an adrenaline-pumping arcade driving game, developed by a new team at Codemasters made up largely of people behind PlayStation exclusives Motorstorm and Drive Club. This multiplatform driving game has speed and style, but what sets it apart most is that it has more in common with a game like Overwatch than Forza.
Although players drive around a circuitous track, Onrush is not about placing first in a race. Once you get over that initial urge to rush to the front, the games feel similar in flow to a team shooter like Overwatch or Splatoon, with two teams of six vehicles vying for advantageous positioning with drifts, feints, and various boost maneuvers, and “counter-picking” car classes mid-game to defend against new strategies. The tracks themselves are also built to facilitate a competitive team dynamic, with larger open areas for arena-style combat that push into choke points full of tight obstacles, risky jumps, and opportunities to bait an opponent into a costly mistake.
Genre-mixing is not new to gaming by any means. However, this is often accomplished by tacking on features to an otherwise standard game. A shooter “with RPG-elements”, or a platformer “with rogue-like features”. Onrush instead takes a genre game, removes a core gameplay feature of it, and replaces it entirely with that of another genre. The result is an experience that feels like a refreshing take on both. It’s a risk, made all the bolder coming from the team behind the technically impressive but clumsily delivered Drive Club. But it’s one that pays off, perhaps flawlessly.
Unfortunately, the team behind Onrush is undergoing layoffs due to poor sales. While the game features a serviceable but uninspiring loot system straight from the Overwatch handbook, it has yet to implement its online ranking system which may impact player retention. But it’s got it where it counts and is a great investment if you can afford it. For having the audacity to take the racing out of a racing game, Onrush takes the number one spot for our June Game of the Month.