A jam-packed feature list and varied courses help offset the handling issues of this racing shooter
Have you ever played Mario Kart? Exalt Studios, the developer of PC game Silas, certainly has because it’s clear where the inspiration for this futuristic kart racer came from. Right down to the power slides, the weapons and the race tracks, there’s a strong whiff of Nintendo’s racer throughout. That’s no bad thing – the plumber and his pals boast a fun time – but at times Silas is a tad too reminiscent for its own good and the new ideas that it does bring to the table don’t stand up very strong.
For those unfamiliar, the kart racing genre includes weapons and barmy situations amongst the racing. In the case of Silas, a self-claimed “first-person shooter” as well as racer, the artillery is billed as a top feature. There are a whole host of different weapons at your disposal, such as the standard guns or things you can chuck on the track to slow down your competitors and it’s a thrilling moment when you time it right and knock them out. In reality, though, you can literally still win a race without even twitching your trigger fingers (the mouse is your aim and the keys move your kart). The main draw here is the racing, which is, for the most part, fairly decent, although the tutorial isn’t the best at explaining things and the handling is a bit too loose when taking the corners.
There is an assortment of different modes and tracks on offer. The pull is the grand prix mode, which sees you racing through all the courses in a bid to beat the computer opponents and gain gold position, but there are also additional options such as time trials and challenges which can get genuinely tricky at times and provide a welcome break. There is also an online multiplayer mode, but I found it impossible to ever find anyone to play with and you’d probably be better off gathering a group of mates together.
The variation in the environments is quite impressive; from a neon tower block, to a dark forest to a floating grassy island. Although it is sometimes hard to determine where you’re actually meant to be going due to poor signposting and paths, they’re designed fairly well and see you flying through the air, skidding round corners and jumping off ramps.
Silas, as well as being the name of the game, is also the planet on which the racing takes place. You can take control of up to twelve different characters, each with their own attributes (such as acceleration or handling). They have their own voices as well, but during the game it does get quite hectic and you can’t really hear any of the taunts that are being shouted out. Where Silas really does shine is in its music, with thirty individual tracks that fit the different track styles well, such as the ultramodern techno tunes in space to the tangy banjo strings on the farm. For as long as I played the soundtrack never got boring or repetitive.
It’s worth giving Silas a shot, since it’s a worthwhile ride and well produced for what it is. Although there are definitely better kart racers out there on the market, if you’re looking for some thrills on your PC then this game is perhaps the way to go. Silas is obviously a work of passion, as shown in the in-game museum which lets you browse the game’s development art, and it is indeed a very respectable effort from a single developer. Although the tiny player base means you’ll be lucky to find anyone to play against, Silas is a hesitant recommendation that is fun in bursts.