An indie solo project, Make Way (published by Secret Mode) is a riotous party driving game that mixes fresh ideas with a retro-infused sense of fun.
Picture the scene – you have friends or family visiting. Perhaps it is over the festive period. Boxes of chocolates lay abandoned, Monopoly has been completed and you’ve absorbed enough trivia from celebrity game shows to dominate the next pub quiz. You need a split-screen video game to liven things up.
That game should be Make Way. Before we delve into its chaotic appeal, we must first conduct a brief history lesson.
Make Way – The Origins Story
The vision of Tom Goodchild, going under the name of Ice Beam Games, the Scottish developer formerly worked on top-down hidden gem Toybox Turbos.
Nealy a decade ago, Codemasters set out to recreate the childish sensibilities of its 1991 break-out success Micro Machines. Only this time, it didn’t have the licence to the formerly Galoob-created toys.
Nevertheless, it persevered, with Goodchild as a game designer. The result was a heady mix of diminutive cars, relatable environments and moreish gameplay. Unlike the prior Micro Machines releases, however, online functionality opened the chaotic multiplayer fun to a wider audience.
Fast forward over nine years, and we’re back again with a cartoonish top-down driving game exuding former party game classics.
Familiar, Yet Distinctive
Only, Make Way has several unique twists on the genre which help it stand apart. It’s not a derivation, but a reinvention. Reminiscent in some ways of 2004’s Mashed, which paired a renowned formula with invigorating elements to deliver a fresh experience.
Once again, we’re using fictional vehicles – some more akin to real-world counterparts than others – and looking down from a towering height. The handling is benign to be ultra-accessible, yet nailing the timing of your inputs requires a certain knack. There is a learning curve for those of a more competitive persuasion.
To succeed in Make Way is to adapt to an ever-changing environment. There are no pre-determined circuits to drive. Instead, each player involved in a match selects a track ‘piece’, analogous to Hot Wheels Unleashed’s editor.
Here, however, each participant has only a mere handful of seconds to select an item. You then affix your sections to the base route like building a Carrera slot car set in rapid time. Immediately, the race starts, you have no clue where you’re going and other cars are bashing into your sides. Before you know it, you pass a finish line. It can be as fleeting as 30 seconds.
Points are then dished out for completing the inaugural sector before you once again pick and apply more track parts. Now the route is twice as long. You start where you did initially, only now the first finish line is a checkpoint, and you drive for longer. Each completed checkpoint and round results in points.
This is then repeated and the track grows. As you progress, you’ll remember the early stages but be blindsided by the later curves. This happens until one driver reaches a points cap first and is declared the winner.
The basic premise is manic enough already, never mind being able to shunt rivals off track – or more likely, being spat off yourself, floating to a premature end.
It is difficult not to be crestfallen if you are barged over the edge. Plus, the gloating of your fellow competitors is likely to be insufferable. Rather cleverly, you only miss one checkpoint, not the rest of the race.
You’re straight back into it at the next flag post, seeking revenge like Maximus in Gladiator.
Things are then amped up further with the addition of weapons and on-track obstacles. In classic, chaos and custom modes, you collect projectiles by driving through Mario Kart-esque blocks. The obstacles on the track are placed there by you or your rivals – when selecting a new track part between rounds, you can instead elect to place items such as ramps instead.
When you are with three other players in one of these match types, all hell breaks loose.
There are times when winning becomes a lesser objective than surviving. I thought driving around the Champs-Élysées was stressful, but this is truly bombastic. Which is the main appeal.
Cross-Platform Online Multiplayer
Outside of local multiplayer, you can race online with up to three other people either in public races or using a code system to invite. This works cross-platform too, with the title currently available on PC (used in our testing), Nintendo Switch and Xbox. PlayStation versions are in development and set to arrive this year.
This is a fun concept executed with aplomb. However, we did find it challenging at times to find an online race. A chicken or egg scenario, whereby the game is disadvantaged due to a smaller player count but needs more people to play it to reverse that trend.
While this is a small (effectively a solo project with freelance support) development team, we’d love a greater incentive to keep playing other than purely rambunctious split-screen action.
New vehicles, game modes and track elements are unlocked by reaching levels, boosted by earning XP. But, while some may scoff at the idea, greater customisation options or some form of seasonal unlock system could perhaps deliver greater longevity. In turn, that could boost online player numbers or provide more of a reason to play solo against bots.
No matter. As it is, Make Way is an essential multiplayer blast either locally or with a group of online friends that wears its lineage on its sleeve. It gladly includes enough originality to forge a new path too. If you have some acquaintances visiting, download it.
Full disclosure – a review code was sent by the game’s publisher for review purposes. We tested the PC (Steam) version, although it’s also available currently for Nintendo Switch and Xbox with PlayStation to follow.
Are you looking for a new online or local multiplayer driving game to play casually with friends? Let us know in the comments below, or on X – @OverTake_gg.