Practice makes perfect in racing games. "Sight reading" a new course (so to speak) might turn out okay, but any perfectionist will spend hours learning the every nuance of every track in order to shave precious seconds off their times. But what if that weren't an option? What if the racetrack wasn't a static entity?
That's what Krautscape has going on. One of the many defining characteristics of this indie racer is that the leader procedurally generates the track. As you pass through the gates that mark the building points, different lanes dictate different directions to send the action.
That's a unique concept for a game, but not enough for developer Mario von Rickenbach. That's why the vehicles can also fly. That's right, if you don't like the way that the track is going, find a place to soar off the edge and take the lead away. Pick your spots wisely though, because a miscalculation could end up in a supposedly savvy move putting you even further behind.
The juxtaposition of these two mechanics makes for some intriguing gameplay. Driving is the quicker of the two options, and there are boosters on the track. However, flying can result in major shortcuts, but it sometimes feels like it takes forever to get there. Regardless of your method, the gates need to be hit to score points and to continue the track. Someone will inevitably get there first.
While it's interesting to note how flying and driving directly act against one another, they often lead to truly enthralling and memorable moments. During my demo with Krautscape, there were times when my (real life) opponent and I would be gunning for the same gate, but from opposite directions. As we both closed in on it, it couldn't have been more than a second's difference separating us, but that fraction of a second meant the difference of an entire point.
That's the Krautscape experience in a nutshell. It might take just a few minutes to grasp how everything works, but once that's done, it's easy to get lost in the competitive spirit and the wonderful aesthetics of the world.
Krautscape features three game modes: Ping Pong, which sends the players back and forth on a progressively longer track; Snake, which cuts the track off at the player in last place; and Collector, which tasks players with driving or flying to reach collectibles to keep the multiplayer aspect varied. Rickenbach is also toying with the idea of adding a singleplayer time trial mode. While this inclusion would be nice, it doesn't really capture the soul of Krautscape -- beating other players, and doing it differently every single time.