Controlled chaos is hard to do right, especially in multiplayer. How do you make utterly manic slapstick a delight to play again and again? Well, you should ask SplitSide Games, as its upcoming cooperative/competitive-racing-platformer-physics-based everything omelette Fling to the Finish promises to do just that. Equal parts Fall Guys and Mario Kart: Double Dash, there’s nothing quite like Fling to the Finish. Honestly it’s a bit hard to even put into words the delightful madness we witnessed, but I’m gonna try my best.
Imagine if someone bottled up the energy of a Cartoon Network show, and it exploded onto Gang Beasts. That’s the easiest way to explain the eye-popping cartoon racers bounding across Fling to the Finish’s madcap courses. A sentient TV, a hungry snail, a goldfish, an acorn, and a sheriff tumbleweed are just a few of the characters planned to appear at launch, dripping in color and personality.
The core hook with Fling to the Finish is that each race pits at least two teams of two in a race to the finish across myriad environments, ranging from schoolyards and giant casinos to interstellar asteroid fields. The twist is that even on your team, there’s extra incentive to be first — landing on the finish line before your teammate nets you a higher rank. Not to mention you still have to coordinate with your teammate, who can be either playing locally or online. You’re bound together by a licorice-like rope that can be snapped by mishaps and opponents, which resets you to the latest checkpoint.
Thankfully, SplitSide has made the excellent decision of offering simplified, responsive controls and extra balancing measures for when you hit rough patches. Each level has unique minigames that only the team in the lead has to deal with, giving players an opportunity to catch up. Power-ups are plentiful, such as summoning a swarm of plungers your opponents might snag their rope on. Other level-specific traps and modifiers can be triggered as well, evoking a kid-friendly version of MotorStorm: Apocalypse. This way, whether you’re a perfect tag team or just goofing about, everyone has fun.
Riding that knife’s edge of challenge and satisfaction is a key focus for the team at SplitSide, one developer citing he even had his parents who don’t typically play games test it for ease of play. This emphasis on accessible fun stretches beyond the core race mode for a variety of solo and multiplayer modes. In particular, the team member I spoke with cited an alien invasion mode where you’re racing against the clock as aliens try to snap your rope. You can also play in multiplayer on your own, controlling both orbs at once.
This freedom of choice extends to your cosmetics, which are all earned via in-game progress, with no microtransactions planned. On the contrary, SplitSide is aiming for a Steam Early Access launch later this summer, with an emphasis on expanding the game with new free courses and cosmetics. They are also aware that a level editor is of interest to players, though it’s not in the cards quite yet.
What’s truly astonishing about Fling to the Finish is its amazing balancing act, which is rather fitting given its physics-based shenanigans. Its cartoony visuals are adorably absurd, never going too over the top. The live match during the presentation was jovial, overflowing with mirth even as one of the competing developers tried to explain the chaos unfolding. Much like Life of Delta, Fling to the Finish is a welcoming project that many players will doubtless appreciate. With ambitious plans and a strong core premise, I look forward to seeing where SplitSide’s multiplayer gumbo of a game goes next when it releases in Steam Early Access.