I didn’t expect to like Race With Ryan as much as I did. For one, it’s a game aimed at kids aged 3-6. I’m a kid aged 29. Also, my YouTube viewing is mostly watching The Killers live shows and video game trailers, not the daily life of a child with too many toys and parents who are squeezing every penny they can out of the poor kid. That’s another article for another site with far more time than I. Here, we’ll just stick to the review and pretend there’s nothing wrong with little Ryan working more hours a day than I do.
Race With Ryan is a kart racer, the go-to genre for tie-in games. Except, unlike some I’ve played, Race With Ryan is good. Like… Weirdly good. Not good enough for me to subscribe to this little boy’s channel, but good enough that I’ve stayed up late a few times to play some more.
On the surface, it’s just another Mario Kart clone, and that’s OK, but it has a little more going for it. For one, the driving model is amazing! I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy the actual racing as much as I did. Sure, it borrows from the moustachioed plumber, such as drifting to get a boost, but it does it well.
Firing up the game for the first time I decided to put the game through its paces with a quick race on the ‘hard’ setting. I was not disappointed. It was challenging and I didn’t win. Fantastic! Egg-shaped powerups litter each course and, as expected, they’re the usual mixture of offensive and defensive gimmicks. They’re nothing special and there’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but they work well and spice up a race, especially with local multiplayer.
Speaking of which, this is a game that is meant to be played with a kid on the couch. Or on the floor. Or the coffee table. The child I enlisted for help with this review sat everywhere and held the controller every which way. I still lost… Much like Mario Kart 8, Race With Ryan has a couple of options to keep youngsters in the race. You can enable auto-steer and auto-accelerate to help keep the little ones on their way. Some may call it cheap and cheating, but c’mon, it’s a game for kids, and as long as they’re having fun, does it matter?
There’s a small selection of courses to race on, though they’re all playable in reverse, so it’s effectively doubling the tracks. Still, I can’t help but feel a little hard done by with the number of tracks included. It feels a little light, but I suppose in the eyes of a child, it’s probably more than enough.
While the tracks may be limited in number, they’re surprisingly well designed and challenging enough to keep things interesting for adults, but not so complicated a child may get confused. Another highlight is just how well detailed they are. From Ryan’s playroom to the Halloween-themed level, each has a lot going on in the background. Compared to other licensed kart racers, which often seem barren and devoid of life, this is an area that Race With Ryan excels. Weird, isn’t it?
Kids will no doubt find a lot to enjoy here, but I suspect that Race With Ryan could become a few parents’ guilty pleasure. It does have some flaws, mind, as it’s not a technical masterpiece. There are a few frame drops through races, and in split-screen, the field of view feels a little too tight, but these are small nitpicks that kids won’t even pick up on. My lad didn’t even notice I was playing single-player for a while…
Race With Ryan PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Race With Ryan is a brilliant little kart racer for kids with easy controls, great handling, and more colour than Ryan’s breakfast cereal. It’s good enough to kill an afternoon with the kids, and good enough to keep playing past the little one’s bedtime.
- Surprisingly good kart handling
- Easy mode and assists for the kids
- Colourful and enjoyable racing tracks
- Lots of unlockables
- Performance is a bit wobbly, but kids won’t care and it’s not bad enough to ruin the fun
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.