Fromto preview (PC)

Headup Games has been responsible for plenty of surprising indie games over the past few years, including the excellent In Between which recently got a console release. Today we’re looking at their upcoming game Fromto.

What we know

Described (at least officially – more on that later) as a sandbox racing game, Fromto is part TrackMania, part Worms and part Move or Die. Your task in the game’s levels is to get to the finish line (it’s almost literally a racer where you go From A To B), but it’s unlike any other racing game you’ve played before. Levels play out in 2D, can often fit on a single screen and you have access to a “jump” button. In that sense, it felt more like the (probably way too obscure too mention) car-platformer Car-Vup that Core released back in 1990 than the Need for Speeds and Forza Horizons of today.

The childlike drawing style of Fromto is no accident either, as Erik Habets included his young children’s artwork to serve as backdrops for the game while designing a matching look and feel for the actual gameplay as well. The result is a hand-drawn style that feels like sketch paper that’s come alive.

While Fromto can be played as a single player experience, which is a decent intro to the game – the core concept of Fromto is that the path to the finish line isn’t there and needs to be built using parts that drop down into the game world. As such, the single player portion of the game is more of a puzzle platformer than a racing game, especially when you start designing alternate solutions to cut down on your best time for a level.

fromto

The game really comes alive as a local multiplayer game though, which is how we played it with the developer and publisher. Here, all of you are trying to get to the finish line first, and when everyone fails (because of crashes and/or horrible accidents) the gameplay stops and there’s a round where everyone gets to place items to help reshape the level. This isn’t just a matter of getting to the finish line, but also a way to trick others into driving straight into a trap, so you need to be careful about what you place and where.

What we saw

During Gamescom, we met with Fromto publisher Headup Games, who had brought Dutch developer Erik Habets from Studio Erikson to Cologne. Together, we played multiple rounds of Fromto, going over the game mechanics as we went along. We’ve also had access to an early build of the game outside of Gamescom, allowing us to experiment a bit more with the world of Fromto.

What we thought

Although presented as a racing game, there is very little actual racing involved in Fromto. Instead, it’s a title that works great as a party/local multiplayer game after you’ve experimented a bit with the single player challenges in the game.

fromto3

Once you’ve gotten a good grip on how the different track parts and tracks can work to your advantage (or to the detriment of others) then the multiplayer portion because increasingly fun to play, as you stop to even bother to get to the finish line just to make sure other people don’t. Things can turn a little mean here and you need to get ready for plenty of “Whaaat?!?!” action, but that’s definitely part of the fun.

There aren’t enough couch coop titles out there these days so it’s a shame that Fromto is a PC exclusive game for the moment, but it’s not very resource-hungry so it’s a title that you can play with a TV-connected laptop in the living room as well. When it releases later this year, definitely give it a try!

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