REVIEW : PalmRide (PC)
PalmRide appeals to me on multiple levels as a youngster of the 1980s and early 1990s. The game is a homage to Outrun and EnduroRacer, two games in which I’ve spent countless hours racing down endless highways. PalmRide reintroduces this simplicity with a style and soundscape reminiscent of the 1980s, complete with excess bloom and neon lights. Everything is in place for a fantastic experience, but its reach is ultimately limited.
You control your car’s speed and direction with the arrow keys or WASD as you drive through endless looping roads in three different locations. Each has its quirks, but the streets are always congested and must be avoided. You’re not racing against the time here, as in Outrun games, and you can go at your leisure. Instead, you have lives — one at a time, to begin with. You’ll lose a life every time you get stuck in traffic or go off-road. Collecting triangles can extend your life to three, which is helpful because motorcycles, in particular, can catch you off guard due to their small size and rapid lane changes.
You can also pick up bullets and shoot traffic and barriers in your path or use a nitro boost to accelerate up for leaps. There is also a flying powerup that allows you to fly through the air, and one section, in particular, uses it to span lakes of water between roadways. You keep going until you’ve used up all of your lives or patience, at which point your distance is recorded. After completing each of the three places, you unlock a casual and leaderboard mode in which you can mix and match the three destinations in the same run – with no checkpoints or end goals. You continue driving.
The use of custom music was the critical lure I discovered with PalmRide. The game includes a few great synthwave songs, but you can also add music to a folder, and PalmRide will shuffle the tracks into a playlist for you to listen to while driving. The background pulsates, and the stereo bars serve as a helpful visualiser. Music does not affect the game itself, although it does allow you to listen to music while playing.