In Onrush’s spray of sparks and dirt and metal is an energized reboot of the traditional racing game. It’s chaos, muscular in a way car people can appreciate, and bound by no law. No one races to come in first; pole position means nothing. All that matters is eliminating other cars, equivalent to a destruction derby, but wilder.
The absolute enthusiasm that pours into everything Onrush does is special and rare. The aesthetic, in spite of the violence, is bright, colorful, and glowing. Even menu screens slam into view from the screen’s top, bounce down onto the bottom frame, and continue animating. Opening a crate means a car smashes through it to unveil the unlocks.
Drawing parallels to Onrush isn’t hard. The soul of EA’s classic Rumble Racing, the heart of Sony’s Motorstorm, and the viciousness of first-person shooters all collect here. Onrush thrills with its energy, some eight cars smashing onto one another in a point hunt, with a bunch of lunatics riding or driving between the teams for their kicks. There’s nothing dull here. The way Onrush keeps players involved without getting too far ahead or behind is genuinely smart, a modern adaptation of the Micro Machines method; Onrush returns any doomed vehicle back to the center of the metal melee.
This is a sport, or so goes the lore. A bunch of thrill-seekers came together and formed leagues around a willingness to drop cars onto one another. Not entirely plausible, but fitting for this wily frame. It’s easy to understand someone’s attraction. Onrush bleeds cool and hype in every match, a return to raw arcade roots lost to even the best in this genre anymore.