Tom Hooper aka Atomp
When I was a teenager there were a couple of little freeware games/toys floating around under the ‘Dismount’ title. One was Stair Dismount, which gave the player the ability to apply a variable amount of force to any part of a standing ragdoll in any direction they liked. This ragdoll was stood at the top of some stairs and in applying force the player was essentially pushing them down the stairs and then being scored according to the damage done to each part of the ragdoll. Following this, the same persons that created that made Truck Dismount which had the same ragdoll damage scoring but added the bonus of variable obstacles, ragdoll stances and a truck. These were immensely fun and thanks to it being a cartoony abstraction avoided the pitfalls of seeming genuinely sinister.
These games have seen a revival in the hands of the Zenbound developer Secret Exit, who were seemingly the original developers of the classic Dismounts I played as a teenager. Stair Dismount is a mobile app now. Turbo Dismount, which is the continuation from Truck Dismount, is available on PC in Early Access and I’ve been playing around with it.
I covered the essence of the game in the introduction — the aim is cause as much damage as possible in order to maximize your score. This is done essentially by preparing a scene, customising a series of elements before applying a force and letting the action play out. The variables are much greater compared to Truck Dismount; there are a variety of levels some of which include the very fun traffic, others involving giant skywards ramps and one that invokes the classic Truck Dismount level. These levels can be customized by changing the obstacles in place at set points. The selection of obstacles is varied even at this stage in development and after just a few updates there are already new ones being added to the list. A personal favourite of mine is the brick wall which will break down into its constituent bricks when hit hard enough and can, with the right impact, produce a dramatic explosion of bricks and vehicle parts as both break apart from the force of the impact. There are also ramps, speed boosts, oil slicks and other such obstacles. Of course different levels will have different uses for different obstacles and really part of the fun of the game is finding the ideal combination of level and obstacle. On top of that there is a variety of vehicles available ranging from a shopping cart to a truck, each with differing levels of destructibility. The truck is exceptionally fun as with speed it tends to come apart quite dramatically with the broken away parts maintaining a great deal of momentum. In addition to the player added obstacles and the player chosen vehicles some levels, like the highway level, contain vehicles which can result in some brilliant pileups.
The essence of the game doesn’t extend much beyond that really and in fairness it doesn’t have to. There are global leaderboards where you can compare your score on particular levels against others, adding a sense of competition to the game. It’s worth mentioning that there are a variety of camera options including a first person camera which the developer describes as being “Our and your worst idea ever!” which is probably true but there’s definitely entertainment value in it when you fly off and as your view spins around you see your own body flying away from you… in bits. This brings me to the games other strength; the time manipulation on replays. Replay time can be controlled with a slider and the changes happen dynamically. It’s possible to 4x slide forward the dull run-up and then throttle down the replay to 1/16th for the interesting bit. This allows for some really very cool Matrix-like slowmo 3D rotating views of the action and also allows for complete pause whilst maintaining the ability to look around.
Aesthetically, the developers have gone for a crash-test dummy model for the damage, with the rest being colourful and cartoony. This does seem to have been done intentionally in order to emphasize that this is just a bit of fun and not some strange pain simulator. Overall the look is more detailed and far more fun than the very barebones appearance of the freeware game I played. The sound is of special mention here as it really helps to cement the feeling of the impacts, especially as the sound is warped appropriately with the time-warped replay function. Every crash, bang and whollop is audible and in 1/16th speed it sounds like a distant thunderstorm as bits of vehicle and brick rain down. A nice touch is the ability to add a custom logo which will appear on vehicles and a custom face or bobblehead for the dummy. Got someone you don’t like? Got a picture? You’re sorted.
In conclusion then Turbo Dismount is silly fun. It’s a toy as much as it is a game and it’s coming along nicely in development. Take it too literally and you’re not going to have much fun, but remember that it’s just a panel of flashing lights showing an abstract physics engine at work and you may just find yourself pushing for the high score. The game is currently available on PC and Mac through Steam Early Access for £4.99 (approx $8.14). There is also an in-browser demo on the website and at the end of this article I will also include a link to the page offering the classic Dismount games that I played as a teenager. The system requirements are fairly reasonable so I’d expect that even a toaster could handle the game in some capacity.
A quick update on last week’s review; there is currently a Sid Meiers’ Humble Bundle (http://www.humblebundle.com/) which will give you the whole of Civ V, all of it for $15 (approx £9.20) which is an absolute steal. If you miss that then there is also talk of an actual Complete Edition containing everything, which will at least clear up the messy situation I had to work around last week.
Game Website (with demo):
Turbo Dismount on Steam Early Access:
Classic Dismount Games Free on the Secret Exit Website: