‘Cologne’ is a Racing Game that Could Use a Power-Up

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Cologne is a futuristic racing game by Nhneno Games, and their first title on Steam. The game’s description says “Blast through multiple pipe-tracks in cosmic realms and cities. Fast machines, challenging levels, tough rivals and places you have never seen before. “ To that I say, true, and maybe not so much.

Cologne starts out simple enough, with a tutorial that teaches you how to control your racing machine. Right away the graphics are simple, but slick, and the announcer is futuristic without being an annoyance. The controls are pretty basic, but actually controlling the racing machine is another story. The machine flies forward fast enough to feel exciting, but drifting inside the tube feels sluggish and slow. The one feature I found to be the most annoying was if you run into one object, which is shockingly easy to do in this game, it creates a broken glass overlay on the screen which makes it almost impossible to see what you’re doing and the only way to get rid of it is to snag a repair power-up. Now, taking damage and having to collect the power-ups to fill that repair bar back up would be fine, but that overlay is an extreme nuisance that really distracts from the game play.

While we’re on the subject, yes there are power-ups, but not in the way that’s fun. There are boost power-ups which provide a small temporary boost of speed which is great, but there are also fuel, repair, and cooling power-ups. I was kind of amazed, and more than a little annoyed, at how fast the racing machine runs out of fuel and overheats. So the game becomes more about collecting those power-ups and a lot less about racing very quickly.

The game’s designer stated that he got the idea for the game from playing old racing games like F-Zero, a classic game that even spawned a sequel on the N64. The game however plays a bit more like the old Extreme G but without the awesome weapons. I see where the designer was coming from, but I don’t know that the final version really got there.

Overall, the game is polished in terms of slick graphics, and nice audio, but the game mechanics themselves I found to be lacking. If you’re looking for a racing game that’s not so much about racing, but keeping your machine from slowing to a crawl, then this is the game for you. If not, the good news is there are scores of racing games on Steam with a higher emphasis on racing.

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