As a child of the 80’s and early 90’s, PalmRide speaks to me on several levels. The game is a love letter to Outrun and EnduroRacer – two games I’ve sunk countless hours into driving down endless roads. PalmRide brings this simplicity back under an 80’s excess bloom and neon lights aesthetic and soundtrack. Everything is here for a great experience but it is ultimately cut short but its own scope.
Using the arrow keys or WASD, you control your cars speed and direction going around endless looping roads in three locales. Each one has its own quirk but the roads are always filled with traffic to avoid. Unlike Outrun games, you aren’t against the clock here – you can go at your own pace. Instead, you have lives – starting with just one to begin with. Each time you hit traffic or go off road, you’ll lose a life. Collecting triangles can boost your lives to three which is helpful as motorbikes in particular can catch you out by being small and quickly changing lanes.
Elsewhere you can pick up bullets and shoot the traffic and blockages in your way to help or use a nitro boost to gain speed for jumps. There is also a flying powerup to take to the skies and one area in particular uses this to cross lakes of water between roads. You keep going until you run out of lives or patience and your distance is logged. After playing each of the three locales, you unlock a casual and leaderboard mode where the three locations mix and match in the same run – again without checkpoints or end goals. You just keep driving.
The main hook I found for PalmRide was using custom music. The game comes with a couple of excellent synthwave songs but you can drag music to a folder and PalmRide will shuffle the tracks into a playlist to enjoy as you drive. The background pulsates and stereo bars play as a nice visualiser too. Music changes nothing about the game itself, but it means you can enjoy music and noodle around in the game.
The problem with PalmRide is that is stops just there. You can change some visual effects, see a few ghosts of players racing alongside you in the leaderboard mode and just chase your own high score. It feels a bit aimless and undefined. That may sound a bit odd but when the basics are really solidly put together in an enjoyable way, I wish there was more of a gaming challenge to get my teeth into. Thankfully, PalmRide is priced very cheaply so it knows its not going to keep you up burning the midnight oil. I hope the developers consider a sequel that expands on the core gameplay – its solid enough to do something more robust with in future. For now, PalmRide is a curious but enjoyable distraction.
Review copy provided by developer.
Small but enjoyable Outrun game that you can place your own MP3's into for extra visual flair. Just a bit lacking in objectives.
Nails that 80's vibe.
Handles like an old school Outrun game from the early 90's.
Using your own music for visual flair is a nice touch.