Genre: Action, Strategy, Indie
Release Date: May 16, 2011
Detour is a casual RTS. Resources are automatically accumulated and the conditions to winning are extremely narrow. The goal is to build a road for your trucks to navigate to the opposing side. While the single player challenges is nothing more than a glorified tutorial, the real meat lies in the multiplayer aspects of the game. Like it’s namesake, the idea is to force you opponent to re-route traffic and impede them to waste resources and time while you try to establish a highway of your own. What makes Detour different from other RTS’ is that the focus of the game is on creating and destroying terrain instead of units.
The impression I got almost immediately from Detour is that it’s a game for all age ranges. Your guide and your opponents all have a decidedly “kid’s show” feeling about them. More or less everything about Detour has a non threatening design choice applied to it. Trucks, roads and terrain are scaled more appropriately when compared to the cartoonish-ly large weapons. From huge road destroying gun turrets to floaty missiles that cause mushroom clouds and blurred vision on impact, overall the feeling isn’t that you are harming anyone, just some friendly competition between business’ is all. Another important note is that you have the ability to scale the graphics down pretty far, it won’t look pretty at all, but it will probably play just fine on outdated hardware.
Like I said above, Detour is a casual (read:simplified) RTS. The best part is that getting up to speed on the game mechanics is fairly straight forward. And with the streamlined system in place it is much easier to find your groove. It should only take you maybe an hour to be fully versed in all of the options available to you but it will take longer to properly *use* them. As far as I can see it, for every action there is a counter to it. Is your opponent sending out cop cars? Put up a donut shop to counter. These types of action/reaction events should happen fairly quickly and if you and some buddies play long enough, eventually it should almost be muscle memory. Detour when played correctly, in my opinion, should feel like a game of speed chess. You always want to have a plan but need to react quickly to change to stay on course. There are also other game modes such as conglomerate (Teams with multiple factories), turret defense, Survival and Merged (Teams with one factory).
Most of Detour can be controlled all via the mouse, however to take it to the next level you really should make yourself aware of the hot-keys. The only thing I wish is if you double pressed the hot-key it would choose your action. Instead you have to push enter to activate your choice. It’s just a small thing but it does add time to what you are trying to get done. The last bit I’d like to touch on is the AI. The difficulty scale seems to be a little bit wonky. What I mean by this, on medium difficulty the AI seems to be amazing at micromanaging the area surrounding a truck but is pretty lax when it comes to laying road and advancing. It just feels unfairly hard in one aspect and ridiculous easy in another. It seems like the difficulty is specific to tasks rather than an overall approach. Instead of the AI doing stuff smart, it just uses cheese tactics lightning quick.
Audio is always a tricky thing in any media and is an aspect that significantly alters my opinion if not handled correctly. Sometimes, I’ll notice something making no sound at all when I feel it should and it perplexes me. Most times, music and sound effects just blend in the background to balance what’s happening. And very few times, does the audio of game amplify the experience. Detour falls in the middle category with sounds acting as queues to alert and music to set the stage. Any dialogue that happens transpires as mumbling, which I can appreciate. If you can’t secure top notch talent for voice acting, dumbing down “voice” is a preferred fallback for me and also goes hand in hand with the cartoony atmosphere.
I honestly have no cool what to make of the story. The single player is setup specifically as challenges, so I didn’t approach it as a single player campaign. However, there is some story elements going on during the challenges. Your basically hired into the HardHead Construction company and are shown the ropes by a GC who calls himself, “The Crease”. When he’s not taunting you, he puts you in competition with the other construction companies up until the point that he meets some of his old College buddies and becomes a tree hugging hippie who is opposed to what he has become.
Detour is to RTS as Speed Chess is to Chess BUT with one caveat. Detour has no single player, well it does but it’s not worth it at all. It serves only as a method to introduce you to the game. Outside of that, the AI is pretty worthless and the story that exists isn’t compelling. Since this is a multiplayer focused title, it’s a catch 22. Thankfully Detour does have a four pack available on Steam and I would recommend if you were thinking about picking this game up to get some friends and go in it together. It’s a hard sell, we were provided four review codes so that we could try out the multiplayer, but when I tried checking the multiplayer by myself games were few and far between.
70/100: Fun and fast RTS that is contingent upon real opponents