Are you looking for some friendly competition? Feeling the need for speed, but not feeling the need to play that particular franchise? Perhaps you’re just looking for something unusual to try but know in your heart of hearts that racing is your passion? Whatever the reason, when it comes to indie racing games, we’ve got a list of the best racing games around for you. As you might expect from racing games on PC, a controller or race wheel is recommended.
The best racing games
The best racing games come in a lot of different forms. Sometimes the aim isn’t to get to a finish line it’s just to finish. Sometimes you’ll be on bikes and roads, sometimes you’ll be in magic cars on soundwaves. No matter what though, the best racing games always feel great to play, and that’s what we’ve gone for here.
There are few racing games that are quite as aggressive as Road Redemption. Picking up a long-forgotten style of racing established by classic of the 16-bit era, Road Rash, you’ll be wailing away on fellow bikers with nasty looking blunt instruments, all while trying to stay on track and ahead of the pack. Alternatively, you could try to just end everyone else’s race before the finish line – your choice. There’s a ton of single-player content, and with split-screen multiplayer alongside online modes, you’re set no matter what kind of competition you’re looking for.
Ever wondered what it would be like to drive over an audio wave? To hear the beat and see the road ahead twist and turn to it? FOAM Entertainment did, and their execution is something special. Load up your favourite song and brace yourself to keep a fast pace as you drift around a course made of music itself. Barriers block the road, and soaring jumps come after hitting the ramps scatters around some songs/courses, while collectables tempt you to adjust your racing line on the fly. The high scoreboards are filled with all kinds of familiar songs and absolute obscurity, so no matter your taste, you’ll find some competition. I dare you to take a swing at my score for Katamari Dancing. I double dare you! No multiplayer alas, but when it comes to competition, those high scoreboards are where it’s at.
Heading back to reality with a crash and a bang, this destruction derby style racer is just a little closer to real-world racing than the last two, but certainly stretches the idea of what kind of damage a car can handle before it gives up and goes to the big crusher in the sky. Smashed, smushed and bent into the most absurd shapes, be the time you cross the finish line your car might well be almost unrecognizable. The racing in Wreckfest is as much about carefully driving and taking corners perfectly as it is about chancing a sideswipe on an opponent at high speed and crossing fingers that you’ve not ruined yourself in the process. No split-screen multiplayer this time, as the graphics are just a little more demanding than others in this list, but a host of online modes will sate those with the urge to take out their opponents as they cross fingers and hope that one more knock to their own bonnet doesn’t kill the engine.
It’s not always about motor vehicles when it comes to racing in games. Well, it’s almost always about motor vehicles, but Speed Runners does a wonderful job of showing that there’s scope for more. Being as much a competitive platformer as it is a race makes the game an interesting prospect for those who perhaps aren’t taken by the smell of petrol and thoughts of open roads but are more familiar with the likes of classic Mario games or more modern platformers like Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It’s frantic, fast-paced fun as you dash, leap and use your grappling hook to stay one step ahead of the competition, just be warned that you’ll absolutely need some local friends for split-screen or some online companions to play online, as there’s not much single-player content on offer with this one.
The latest and, for me, perhaps greatest on the indie racing scene is Lucky Mountain Games’ homage to the arcade racing scene of the 1990s. Chunky polygons, bright block colours and racing that’s at once a breeze to pick up but requires near perfection to master combine to offer up a style of racing that’s otherwise not available any more. Whether you’ve got nostalgia for that time and games like Daytona USA, Sega Rally or Ridge Racer or if you’re just drawn by the retro styling, Hotshot Racing is sure to give that surge of adrenaline as you edge over the finish line, competition in hot pursuit. Offering a full package of single-player Grand Prix and time trials alongside split-screen and online play means that Hotshot Racing has every mood covered and the stunningly simple controls and friendly handling make it an easy game to either pick up and immediately enjoy or to teach to a willing apprentice racer.