Disney Speedstorm early access review: Is it worth it?

Disney Speedstorm early access review: Is it worth it?
Images via Gameloft

Written by 

Ava Thompson-Powell

Published 

4th May 2023 16:40

Disney Speedstorm is Gameloft's newest foray into the world of Disney-themed titles, following on from its life-sim-themed cousin, Dreamlight Valley. Rather than making friends, planting crops and decorating a valley, though (something I've spent absolutely countless hours doing), this time, we're taking things to the racetrack.

Currently in buy-to-play early access, Disney Speedstorm is a high-octane, fun-fuelled kart racer that is perfect to play alone, online, or even with others in couch co-op. With a multitude of tracks and variations to keep things fresh, it features a dizzying amount of battle-royale style quests and challenges to complete that will send even the most seasoned completionist into a tailspin. 

GGRecon Verdict

Disney Speedstorm, even in its early access form, is set up to be a great kart racer that can shape up to other top-tier titles within the genre. With plenty of challenges, racers, and modes to try out and unlock, completionists out there have a multitude of reasons to hop into the game again and again while burning rubber as your favourite Disney or Pixar character.

While the sheer amount of quests and challenges to complete can get overwhelming at times, personally, I can't wait to see what Disney Speedstorm has in store for us - and I'll be right there at the finish line cheering them on.

A racing tale as old as time

Mickey Mouse racing in the Mount Olympus track in Disney Speedstorm
Click to enlarge

Let's kick it off with one of my favourite parts of Disney Speedstorm - and one of the most nostalgic parts for many, I'd wager - the tracks and the racers themselves. 

Zipping through any of its eight current tracks (each of which has its own course variations) as racers from the likes of Beauty and The Beast, Hercules, and Pixar's Monsters, Inc. battle it out with one another sparks so much joy for me. There's nothing quite like barrelling it down through The Silver Screen map, which has you travelling inside a cinema screen to race around a completely black-and-white environment which emulates the House of Mouse's early days.

The sound design and visuals here in Disney Speedstorm are also top-notch, with maps like Mount Olympus featuring a dance-like remix of Zero to Hero that I never even knew I needed until I'd heard it (trust me, it's great) as you zoom through the clouds.

While kart racing isn't something you'd initially think of in regards to the likes of Belle, Mulan, Mickey Mouse and Sulley, the game is a perfect blend of itching that 90s and 00s nostalgia, while also being a genuine blast to play.

The Beast in Disney Speedstorm
Click to enlarge

Unique-feeling racers & Skills

Disney Speedstorm's characters fall into one of four different classes: Brawlers, Defenders, Speedsters, and Tricksters. Take Belle, for example - a Speedster racer. In this class, she has a naturally higher Top Speed stat than racers in other categories, while also having the added benefit of having an auto boost after successfully hitting another racer with a power-up. You can additionally unlock Crew Members that can be attached to your character, providing different boosts to your racer's stats alongside other bonuses.

These power-ups can be accessed as is the case in many other titles of this vein: by driving through icons scattered throughout a track. What I absolutely love about power-ups in Disney Speedstorm is that each class has a unique set of Skills that have two variations: Normal and Charged. Depending on whether your hold the power-up button or simply tap it determines which of these you'll use, adding a second layer of variation to the Skills on offer in Disney Speedstorm.

  • Check out our Redfall review for our thoughts on Arkane's latest title.

Celia May's skills in Disney Speedstorm
Click to enlarge

That's not all though, as each character also has their own Unique Skill to unlock as you upgrade your character via collecting specific resources that are rewarded as you finish certain goals. For example, Monsters, Inc.'s Celia Mae has a Unique Skill called 'Snake and Shake' that activates a different mood type depending on whether you activate the Normal or Charged variant, generating Nitro fuel and additionally slowing opponents in the case of the latter. As you upgrade the star rating of a racer, these boosts also grow in power, adding plenty of tangible growth to how they feel out on the tarmac. 

Driving around each of the game's maps feels great, too, with drifting giving you the chance to regularly build up boosts as you glide around corners, with plenty of boost pads lining the track to keep the momentum going. There's even the ability to ram other racers off of their course with an aggressive sideswipe - complete with a slow-mo camera shot for those successful hits.

Additionally, courses have blue Grind Pipes that emulate those found in skateboarding titles dotted all over them, which serve as both a shortcut and an alternate method to obtaining a boost - if you're able to keep your racer balanced as you traverse over them.

You're even able to jump (pretty much whenever you want, too, might I add) which is great for traversing any obstacles that may appear on the map as you're racing - or as a way to perform aerial stunts when launching off of ramps.

As a huge fan of kart racers in general, what I love about Disney Speedstorm is how each new race feels incredibly unpredictable - even when playing against NPCs. Each race is a blur from start to finish, and its high-octane combination of Skills, side-swiping opponents off of the road and endless opportunities for boosting truly makes for a great combination.

Screenshot showing the Game Mode select screen in Disney Speedstorm
Click to enlarge

It's (not) a small world after all

Disney Speedstorm is chock full of varying modes to jump into - and that's an understatement. Upon starting the game for the first time, some of these are locked, but more will open up as you continue to play. The sheer volume of things to do here can actually be quite overwhelming.

The current Monsters, Inc.-themed Season Tour has a total of eight chapters to work through with multiple races to complete within them. Then there's the Starter Circuit, which sees you racing as specific characters like Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy, with occasional 'Guest Racers' popping up to try out like The Jungle Book's Mowgli and Meg from Hercules.

On top of this, you've got Limited Events, which feature mini Cups or a selection of goals to complete at varying levels. These provide rewards towards unlocking Racer Shards to get a particular character, or upgrade those that you already have.

There's even Ranked Multiplayer (and a Regulated Multiplayer mode that puts everyone on an equal footing) if you want to go toe-to-toe with other gamers to battle it out with, each with their own rewards to collect.

In a similar vein to battle-royale titles, you've even got the Golden Pass, which provides daily and weekly missions to complete that go towards unlocking new rewards as you rank up - ranging from Upgrade Parts to currencies that can be spent in the shop, or new Victory Animations for racers.

While the sheer amount of currencies (there are three types), different events, upgrade requirements and the number of quests to complete can get quite overwhelming at times, feeling very akin to many other live-service titles, there's something for every type of player here to enjoy.

Screenshot showing weekly missions in Disney Speedstorm
Click to enlarge

The Verdict

Disney Speedstorm, even in its early access form, is set up to be a great kart racer that can shape up to other top-tier titles within the genre. With plenty of challenges, racers, and modes to try out and unlock, completionists out there have a multitude of reasons to hop into the game again and again while burning rubber as your favourite Disney or Pixar character.

While the sheer amount of quests and challenges to complete can get overwhelming at times, personally, I can't wait to see what Disney Speedstorm has in store for us - and I'll be right there at the finish line cheering them on.

4/5

Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

Ava is GGRecon's Evergreen Editor. With a BA (Hons) in Media & Communications, she was previously the Evergreen Editor for Dexerto. When not in the land of evergreens, she's playing her favourite games, including Dead by Daylight, The Sims, Second Life, and Red Dead Online. Oh yeah, and she's a huge Taylor Swift fan.

Trending
Remember Anthem? New players keep jumping in and asking what happened to it
All we know about Last Time I Saw You, from trailers to gameplay details
Paper Ghost Stories: Third Eye Open gameplay details, trailers & all we know
All Tap Dragon: Little Knight Luna codes to redeem Rubies
All Infinitode 2 secret codes to redeem Green Papers, Accelerators & more