Tiny Trax is a VR racer for people who get sick playing VR racers. If the idea of lurching around corners at high speed whilst wearing a headset is enough to make your stomach do a barrel roll, then you too probably identify as one of those people who desperately wants VR experiences that satisfy, but that do so without eliciting vomit-inducing moments of nausea. It turns out that there are people who work at the always capable Futurlab who feel the same way, and they resolved to build a VR racing game that doesn't make you want to hurl after every corner.
On those terms, Tiny Trax is an absolute success. We played it across a couple of extended sessions, and not once did we feel even the slightest hint of nausea. This feat is achieved by the perspective of the player, who sits stationary and can view the whole track, adjusting the viewing angle only when the action moves to the extremity of the course. Normally a static viewpoint would be a weird position from which to race, but Tiny Trax is actually a cartoony homage to the slot car racing of yesteryear, like the Scalextric sets that so many of us enjoyed playing around with during our youth. When you think about it in that sense, it's actually a very natural way to view the action.
It doesn't take long before the composition of the tracks starts to get very twisty and turny, and there are some seriously fiendish corners to steer your tiny car around. You build up a speed boost by drifting around corners, but it's a fickle move that will often slow you right down; turn too quickly/sharply or leave it too late and your momentum will crash and burn, as will your chances of scoring a personal best. It's frustrating at first, especially given how the racing line winds this way and that, but once you've played the tracks a couple of times it's possible to race with a bit more consistency.
There is the option of multiplayer, if you can find a game, but most of your time (at first, at least) will be spent playing solo. You're up against three computer-controlled cars (there are a handful to choose between, and you can pick one of several colours too) although the reality is you're only really chasing down the vehicle in front of you, and we spent a fair amount of time slightly annoyed about the blatant rubberbanding, with the car in front clearly taking it easy on us, like a good friend who felt sorry for us being crap despite our best efforts.
Once we got over this minor annoyance and we had raced through all of the twelve tracks included, we started having more fun. Some of them are quite long, and have you racing back and forth, up and down, through chicanes, and even heading underwater. The five lap races are just long enough to get into, and while the track composition can frustrate a little at times, at least the aforementioned rubberbanding has a benefit as it keeps you close enough to compete for a podium finish until at least the last lap.
Our main concern, however, comes from the relatively meagre number of tracks, which might be visually striking and vibrantly coloured, full of fun details and nice little features, all with plenty of background variety thanks to three distinctive settings, but they're just too few in number. On the bright side, you certainly won't master them at the first time of trying, which adds a little longevity. Still, a track editor would have gone down an absolute treat, and would have certainly been a fitting addition considering the inspiration behind the game, mirroring the real world customisation offered by Scalextric and the like.
All told, Tiny Trax is a fun little racer if you've got a VR headset and not enough nausea-free games to go with it. It's lightweight in terms of content, but what's there is charming thanks to simple and accessible racing, with striking backgrounds and zany track design sealing the deal. It takes a while to get to grips with, but once you've got the hang of things it can lead to some tense and exciting racing.