Screamride is a game that caught my fancy early on into its announcement. What could possibly go wrong with a game whose bread and butter is the all too fun system of virtual roller coasters and is being developed by the same crew that brought you the Rollercoaster Tycoon series? Nothing, I say!
Needless to say, I was excited to jump into this one.
Screamride is developed by Frontier Studios and published by Microsoft
Review was conducted on the Xbox One version of the game
Screamride is a game with a pretty light sense of humour attached. In it, you take some unsuspecting yet voluntary participants on behalf of the Screamworks company through a bevy of experiments for the apparent good of mankind, or something like that. That’s really about as much as you need to know about the storyline. It doesn’t really factor much into the gameplay honestly. Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing isn’t relevant to your end goals, and I gather it’s just kind of there to tie all of the career gameplay modes together. There are three main gameplay modes in Screamride career which take place in 6 locations on the world map:
- ScreamRider is probably the first mode you’ll end up playing. In it, you take a group of willing guinea pigs for a test drive through a new roller coaster track. While the tracks are pretty straight forward to begin with, new “benefits” to increase the thrills are added in area, from obstacles on the course to monorail tracks where you must push the cart up onto 2 wheels to balance. You get bonus points for doing things like bringing the cart onto two wheels, and can get turbo and speed boosts throughout the test to help bring down your race time.
- Demolition Expert sees you taking your guinea pigs in various shaped vehicles (dubbed “cabins”) and hurling them at buildings and objects from afar for the purpose of destroying them. Strangely, this was the type of thing I was into a few years ago when I played a lot of Pain for the PS3. I did enjoy playing this mode, though not as much as I thought this type of thing was up my alley. It may have been because the aftertouch on the left stick wasn’t “video game” sensitive enough for my liking (though it probably had some pretty well crafted physics behind it) but I couldn’t find myself playing this mode for long periods of time like I could the ScreamRider mode. Still, if you do like the mode, stick with it, as the cabins do get better over time, and you’ll find yourself in better control as you progress.
- The Engineer mode puts you in charge of being a problem solver. Here, you’re given an objective and you have to solve it in order to make a rideable track. Once you think you have it figured out, you can preview the track. In it, you’ll watch the riders go on the track while a meter in the corner matches their screams, the intensity of the track, and how nauseous they’re getting from it. There are also challenges for you to create the most deadly tracks in order to launch your ScreamRiders into buildings to do maximum damage. This is a very interesting dynamic to the game, and as a puzzle game fanatic, this should be my favourite mode far and away. Unfortunately, not so, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I think I got so hooked on the ScreamRider mode that everything else became secondary. Still, this is a probably the mode that is the most challenging, and the one that you should lean toward if you’re enjoying the game and looking for something new. I also admit I got a guilty pleasure out of trying to trying to eject all of my riders as my own personal objective, but I couldn’t get more than 13 on a single go.
All three modes share a few things in common. The common goal of each level is to get as many commendations as you can in order to increase your security clearance. This is the only way that you’ll be able to unlock all of the career mode content as you play. You will also see level objectives throughout, which are the most fun in ScreamRider mode since they usually require you to do things like get a full turbo meter, or derail on purpose while ending with a specific score.
I guess it’s easy to make the comparison between Screamride and the Rollercoaster Tycoons of the world since they have the same studio behind them both. For me, I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t shake the “Trials” feeling as it drew a lot of parallels to that series of games in my mind. The levels get downright silly by the end of the ScreamRider mode for example, but that’s where the charm in this game lays in my opinion. If Microsoft and Frontier intend on running a lot of DLC on the game in the future, my recommendation would be for it to focus more around the ScreamRider modes than anything else. I think the game shines the most in this mode, and was far and away the most enjoyable, especially in first person views.
For all of you creative types (and let’s face it, content leechers like me) there’s a level editor mode too which allows you to be creative to your fullest potential. I wouldn’t really touch the editor until you’ve exhausted the Career mode, however. You unlock some good set pieces every time your security clearance levels go up, and you’d be missing out on a lot if you went in without giving yourself the chance to make the best coaster possible. Much like the WWE Franchises, the more creative, the better, and Xbox One players can even share their content online. The sharing feature is not available on Xbox 360, so if this is a big selling point for you, knowing that should make your decision automatic. While I enjoyed toying around with the sandbox mode level editor, I don’t think I’m cut out for a life of coaster engineering. I tend to be the type of person who wants to try to eject as many riders as possible, and I don’t even know if I could stomach my own rides. I used to love rollercoasters, but riding some of the coasters at Universal Studios during my honeymoon quickly brought me into the reality of the fact that I’m not 16 anymore. I’ll leave the loops and drops to the unrelenting Screamworks hired hands.
You know, I think the oddest feeling I have after playing this game (which I quite enjoyed, don’t get me wrong) is that it was a bit lost in its overall identity. I know it’s an odd thing to say (along with questioning a game’s identity,) but I felt like I was playing 2 different games on one disc. While the ScreamRider and Engineer modes were pretty related, Demolition Expert was a complete oddity. It’s almost as though “Screamride” was the wrong name for this title because of the similarity to the “ScreamRider” mode’s name. Maybe naming the game “Screamworks” might simply have been the best methodology, or maybe I’m thinking out loud way too much over what is seemingly a fairly trivial thing.
At the end of the day, the fun gameplay combined by the very affordable price point (nearly half a normal retail title) makes this one to check out for sure. There aren’t enough gameplay scenarios in my opinion for something in the $70 range, however, at nearly half that, this is worth the price all day. It won’t win any game of the year awards, but Screamride is a quirky brand of fun that will keep you and your friends laughing and challenging each other all day.
Gameplay: 4 / 5
Graphics: 3.5 / 5
Sound: 3.5 / 5
Controls: 4 / 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4 / 5
Overall Rating: 3.8 / 5 (76%)