This mud simulator definitely has potential, if only they had spent a bit more time on it…
Spintires: Mudrunner has a solid concept and a nicely realised physics playground to put it in, but ultimately struggles to gain traction due to its rough edges and lack of content.
As the name implies, Spintires: Mudrunner will see you spinning your tyres in mud, and what glorious mud it is. Thick, gelatinous, gloopy and accurately simulated down to almost molecular level, it needs to be understood and respected if you're going to get anywhere.
You have a selection of off-road vehicles to choose from that can be outfitted however you like (log carrier, fuel tanker, spares vehicle etc). The goal is to pick up wood from logging stations and deliver it to mills scattered around the 6 maps. This isn't as easy as it sounds though; the mud realistically reacts to the weight and movement of your vehicle which in turn offers a unique risk vs. reward mechanic.
If you take multiple smaller loads, you'll quickly turn the road into an undrivable mess as you churn it up with each pass. Or, you could load up your truck with as many logs as it can take and burn litres of fuel pushing axle-deep through the sludge. Getting bogged or running out of fuel are regular occurrences - and while you do have access to diff locks, winches and recovery vehicles, it is entirely possible to get so stuck you have to restart.
It is an exercise in patience, this logging business. It's also difficult, with even casual mode requiring careful use of gearing and navigation. And yet in spite of all of this, I found it quite remedial, trying to find the most efficient way of delivering my logs and minimising time saving my own arse. It's just a shame that that's all you really have to do here - with the exception of some challenges to mix things up, there's not a lot else to this game. Modding is thankfully supported, however, so hopefully the community can address that.
For a game about mud based in a desolate Eastern European landscape, it's as dreary as you'd expect. It's not pretty, but it doesn't need to be. There's more than enough detail to keep you immersed, and some nice post-processing helps add a bit of polish to the experience. That said, the vehicle interiors are absolutely woeful...
The only good thing to say about the audio is the sound that the mud makes. There's next to no music aside from a short rock riff whenever you start the game or complete an objective, and the engines do tend to drone when you're doing 10km/h for extended periods of time. My tip? Have your own music playing in the background.
In spite of it playing more like a tech demo than a fully realised game, there is still a lot to like about Spintires: Mudrunner. It can take an eternity to get your dirty and battered convoy to where it needs to be, but successfully navigating the inhospitable terrain is definitely rewarding if you're up for the challenge. With such an awesome physics playground available to you though, I just wish that there was more to do than deliver logs.
WATCH THE OFFICIAL SPINTIRES: MUDRUNNER TRAILER NOW