Fumes is Mad Max meets Robot Wars and I am very much here for that

Some games are just about having a rip-roaring good time, and mere minutes into Fumes you know it's one of those. In some ways this is a loving homage to the early 3D era's love of vehicular combat games, your Carmageddons and Twisted Metals, with the gorgeous lo-fi pixelwork of the cars a particular highlight. But it's also a reminder that, in videogames, cars bristling with weapons are always going to be a great thing.

Fumes is a straightforward singleplayer game about vehicular gunfights, the sheer joy of slamming a monster truck fronted with circular saws into anything in the same zip code. And you could just go with a machine gun, but why not stick a flamethrower on top? Rocket launcher for the lols? This world of car-on-car action is truly your oyster.

The thing I like about Fumes is there's no cruft. You're straight in there (in the demo at least) to do what you've come to do: cruise around some wasteland and blow hell out of anything that moves. Perhaps the greatest moment of the game's Steam description is this: "No loading screens. No fast travel. Just use your car."

Fumes' desert wasteland is procedurally generated and, as well as all the healthy explosions, the game has a definite chillout vibe to it: after big fights you tend to just meander for a short while, picking and choosing where to go. The new trailer at the PC Gaming Show is basically a wishlist fulfilled for new gameplay features: an overhauled environment, cargo delivery missions, as well as a new boss fight, special abilities, and whatever a "new diegetic user interface" is.

(Image credit: FUMES team)

You can huff some Fumes now in Early Access, but the fullversion isn't far behind with additional mechanics, weapons, and all the other good stuff. The game is built around customising your car but it's all upfront and you earn bits by playing: "No microtransactions," says the developer. "Enough of this bullscrap."

Fumes is a game about haring over a desert wasteland, being chased by evil enemy cars, and blasting them to smithereens with your own choice of hardware. You probably already know whether this sounds appealing or not: If you like Mad Max, or this particular style of game, then Fumes is in that ballpark.

You can follow the game's developer for updates on X, keep track of the game on YouTube, or just go and try the demo yourself.  

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."