Imagine the coolest slot car track you ever saw, spread out all around you and surrounded by a whole landscape of props and decorations. That is pretty much Tiny trax: a slot car racing game in VR. You truly are sitting right next to the track, always wishing you had a bit more time to admire the scenery. There are even trophies for certain head movement interactions with the courses. It all screams of childishly fun, easy to pick up, pure and simple gameplay.
But Tiny trax is also devious. Keep holding down acceleration, turn left and right, boost and toggle lanes. That is all you need to think about. It is, indeed, easy to pick up.
Winning a race, however, is not easy. I have played enough to have a firm grasp of the controls, but I have yet to win even one single-player race. The AI opponents are not into making mistakes, and it only takes one or two of your own to fall behind and keep falling.
Fortunately there is multiplayer. Even when I lose just as big, there is something comforting in seeing even the best players making a mistake here and there. It is easy to blow through track after track, and soon enough I had started to get a feel for all the tracks. I started getting the hang of turning through corners, which is required to maintain speed but also regains boost if done right. Then, the art of boosting started to fall into place with the crucial realization that the boost button can be held down for longer bursts.
After that, I have even won a race or two.
Never before have I used and seen multiplayer as a way to build skill for single player. I suspect it could have come in handy in other games too, even if the feeling of multiplayer being the more forgiving game mode is a bit unique.
Unforgiving though it is, Tiny trax never feels unfair. The AI drives well, but it never cheats, never rubber bands and holds no information I lack.
It is not a game I play all night, but I enjoy diving in for shorter sessions, preferably in multiplayer, gradually improving my skills. In the grand tradition of challenging games, I do not quite understand what exactly I do differently, I just notice myself finishing ever so slightly better. I am doing something right, and I am very much enjoying the process.
Strange how much depth there can be to such a cute game with such simple controls.
Note for future readers
A patch is coming out soon which is all about making the game easier at first. That is a good thing, and all the more reason to try the game. My impressions and experiences are stil the same.