Can ScreamRide keep you on the edge of your seat? Or does it merely offer cheap thrills?
ScreamRide is divided into two main parts. The first is a campaign mode which is made up of three different game play styles. The other portion of the game is a Sandbox mode, which as the name implies is where you can build anything your little adrenaline filled heart desires. Let’s take a look at what the campaign mode entails. As I said before, the campaign mode has three paths you can take. Scream Rider is probably where the game excels. In this mode, you take control of the coaster itself as you speed along the track gaining boost, dodging obstacles, and staying on the track. Demolition Expert is where you will take down buildings, cause explosions and send riders through hoops. Finally, there’s Engineer mode where you are tasked with completing a coaster with certain objectives, like being as destructive as possible or just keep the riders from falling off. The campaign has 8 different locations set around the world. You progress to the next location by completing levels and collecting commendations. You don’t need to perfect a level to continue on, but you need to get at least one commendation before you can move to the next. On top of the campaign and sandbox modes, the game also offers the ability to play through player created levels.
Scream Rider is where the game shines. It’s almost like a racing mode, or a time trial mode despite being tied to the coaster track. As you’re speeding along the track, you accrue boost by pressing X right before the end of a blue section of track. You can’t always see the end, but you can generally tell how close you are to finish that section with the audio cue the game gives you. You can also get boost out of the gate if you hit the accelerate button in time with the light. Unfortunately, each level has a different timer on the lights, but the game is fairly forgiving on when you need to push the button. As long as you hit the gas as the green light shows up, you’ll get a Perfect. It will throw you off if you’re used to games like Mario Kart, as you can predict when you have to hit the gas pretty easily. The challenge in Scream Rider lies in derails. It’s pretty easy to derail your pod, but you can keep that from happening by having the passengers tilt the cars in certain directions. Of course, you can increase your total points if you keep the cars on two wheels for as long as you possibly can. The game does a great job of slowly adding new mechanics to be aware of as you continue through each area. The only issue I have with Scream Rider is how easy it is to derail from the track. Even when holding the brake button, you’ll find yourself past the point of no return, and you just fall off.
Up next is the Demolition Expert which is a pretty fun mode. The closest thing I can compare Demolition Expert to is Crash Mode from the older Burnout games. You rack up points based on how well you can topple structures by hitting their weak point. And much like the Burnout games, once your riders have been sent on their way, you can use aftertouch to get in a little closer to that collection of explosive barrels. Not only that, but you have a selection of special cabins that have their own abilities that make things interesting. There’s one that explodes, one that separates itself into three parts, and one with more maneuverability in aftertouch. You can also get more points if you hit other objects on the field. Stuff like drone cameras, hoops, and screens make that score go up. Sadly, I felt as though the destruction didn’t quite feel as satisfying a lot of the times. It mostly stems from how simple the structures look. They look like giant styrofoam boxes with odd geometry that are just being knocked over. Despite its flaws, this was my second favorite game mode after Scream Rider.
Lastly, we have Engineer mode. Engineer mode is more puzzle-oriented. Each level has a certain objective you need to accomplish by laying down track from a mostly built coaster. This mode was made annoying and tedious because of the controls and because I can never see where the end of the track is located so I can connect the pieces. There is an auto-complete option, but it does sort of defeat the purpose. If the â€œgoalâ€ section of track was highlighted, even briefly, the building mode would have benefitted a lot. The other major issue I had was with the Engineer mode were the controls. They felt absolutely clumsy and I found myself fighting with them just to take care of a simple task. Mouse and keyboard would have been the preferable choice here, but this is a console game, so that’s not possible.
The sandbox mode is exactly what you think. You build coasters to your hearts content, but it uses the controls from the Engineer mode. Which makes building anything a challenge. You can however use a blueprint which is a premade coaster and edit it. So that makes things a little bit more palpable. Once you’re done with your level you can upload it so that others may play your creation. If you want to just jump into the sandbox mode to create your dream coaster, you may be disappointed as you do unlock more items for the creation mode through the campaign mode. Which is a good incentive to keep collecting those commendations.
Visually the game is competent. It doesn’t do anything to wow you, but it does what it sets out to do. The aesthetic that the team at Frontier Developments decided upon was a sort of laboratory setting. And with it a very clinical view at roller coasters. It doesn’t do anything fancy with it. Unlike the Roller Coaster Tycoon games, none of the levels are themed with any sort of crazy theme. All of the levels look very similar; the rides placed in the middle of a body of water with either mountains or a cityscape in the distance. It doesn’t change the theming of the coasters very much. The cars may have a different color scheme, or the riders may have a different looking suit, but all in all, the game looks the same from level to level.
While the game runs smoothly in the core gameplay, the framerate often drops to near single digits when in Scream Rider mode while the tracks are rebuilding themselves. It’s incredibly annoying in that it breaks the flow a little bit. There are also several instances of graphical issues like weird shadows on objects and people something the Xbox One should be able to render handily.
Overall, ScreamRide is a decent diversion. There is quite a bit of fun to be had here, but it definitely has some problems. Scream Rider and Demolition Expert were the stand out parts of the experience, but issues like framerate, a boring aesthetic, and convoluted sandbox controls hampered the experience. The main campaign isn’t very long, if your good at it, but even if you aren’t this isn’t a game you’ll spend very many hours on. There are user levels to download to expand the experience, but if the community isn’t there to keep on producing good, enjoyable levels, you won’t spend much time in this theme park.
Reviewed on Xbox One, also available on Xbox 360.