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“Blood and circus for the masses”: Exclusive interview with DeathSprint 66 game director

The upcoming DeathSprint 66 leans hard into its premise of a brutal, action-packed racing game in which players will quite literally fight it out with rivals as they race to the finish. Coming from publisher Secret Mode and developer Sumo Newcastle, this new kind of racing game is all about making a mad dash to finish and coming out on to—or die trying.

Set for release on PC later in 2024, DeathSprint 66 has players step into the running shoes of genetically engineered racers born to compete in a new type of brutal bloodsport that’s taken a near-future Earth by storm.

We got the chance to speak with game director Andrew Willians from Sumo Newcastle about DeathSprint 66‘s unique world and how the developers aim for players to find a particular type of flow when diving into the game’s brutal competitions.

The Running Man meets dystopian death game show

DeathSprint 66 blends the fighting mechanics of an action brawler with the sense of speed and control from a racing game. Playing as cloned runners created by Bachman Media Network, players can sprint, jump, drift, and grind throughout the race to keep their momentum up. 

However, you’ll also need to defend yourself in the over-the-top competition. Not only will you need to avoid traps and deadly hazards like buzzsaws and pits, you’ll also need to watch out for other competitors looking to take you out with weapons or a just a well-timed shove into a trap.

“For us, DeathSprint 66 is something of a reimagining of Stephen King’s The Running Man and other films and shows that tackle the idea of dystopian game shows where death is a popular form of entertainment,” said Willans about the concept of the game. “It’s very much like a new update of the ancient gladiatorial competitions. In the near future, this new game show has gripped audiences worldwide as they tune in to see contestants competing for their lives.”

Let’s run

In this dystopian world, the masses are controlled by the in-universe corporation, the Bachman Media Network. This global power gives the masses escapism with a brutal bloodsport composed of cloned runners who compete for accolades, sponsorships, and the opportunity to live to see another race.

These races involve 8 runners, and each racer competes for the top spot to earn hype—which is DeathSprint 66‘s take on the experience. As you earn more hype, you’ll gain access to additional sponsors that open up new customization and upgrades. Eventually, players will be able to increase their reputation in the world and learn more about how this dystopian setting has become so fixated by the craze of the bloody racing game.

As the brutal races go on, you’ll likely see your runner meet a gruesome end—and the developers plan to showcase some gory kills and finishers.

DeathSprint 66 is all about mastering the combat mechanics and traversal gameplay

According to Willans, playing DeathSprint 66 is all about mastering the combat mechanics and traversal gameplay—an exciting blend of a brawler and fast-paced parkour action. The goal is for players to feel a strong connection to the style and sense of speed of the game, giving them a greater connection to it.

“I have a background as a snowboarder, and for me, it’s all about that flow state,” said the game director. “That flow state is something we’re capturing in video game form, with players being able to run, jump, dodge, and weave between grinding, sliding, and making leaps as they race. It’s not about doing complicated inputs, but rather it’s about finding a sense of flow in how you play, which will make a fun experience.”

“It’s all about that flow state”

Andrew Willans, DeathSprint 66 game director

After working on the game for more than three years, the developers at Sumo Newcastle are finally ready to show more of it and eventually get it in the hands of players later this year. Releasing as a stand-alone game, DeathSprint 66 won’t be a live service game and will offer a complete experience for players on launch day.

The 2024 release on PC will be just the start of the world of DeathSprint 66, and while the developers have ideas for the future post-launch, they will be listening to the community on where they want to see where the game will go next.

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