In the future, the only way we will be able to find entertainment is through insane thrill rides where we brush off silly ideas like “rider safety” and replace them with “mass destruction.” Such is the world of ScreamRide, where you are in charge of creating and controlling roller coasters intended to excite riders and, oddly enough, demolish buildings.
The futuristic view that ScreamRide takes is incredibly silly and mildly disconcerting. You are taken through this world accompanied by a soothing GlaDOS-type computer voice while witnessing douchebag-type college kids whooping and screaming as you throw them off of tracks, crash them through buildings and explode them. If this game was taken with even a hint of seriousness you might feel bad for the poor kids but instead you actually enjoy throwing them around, even if (regrettably) everyone seems to be perfectly fine at the end of the day.
The game is split into three distinct modes. They all score you based on performance which in turns unlocks further levels in that particular mode. They also all offer unique side-challenges to complete that feel very Trials Fusion-like. Getting a particularly high score combined with completing every challenge will grant you a gold trophy on a given level, a difficult task on even the easiest of levels.
Of the three different modes in ScreamRide, it’s difficult to say which one would be considered the main one. The first, simply named ScreamRider, lets you actually operate roller coasters, letting you control the speed, lean into turns and avoid obstacles. Special highlighted sections task you with hitting X right before they end, gifting you boost. Boost too much, however, and you’ll find yourself flying off the track. It’s by far the most straightforward mode but also the most difficult. As levels go on, interesting twists like landing jumps and leaning to survive single-rail sections are thrown in.
Based on the name, you might consider ScreamRider to be the main mode but it is by far the weakest. Riding roller coasters is fun, no doubt, but the actual gameplay elements are incredibly tame. The scoring system at times feels arbitrary and based more on the layout of the track than anything else. Sure you get bonuses for riding long distances on two wheels and timing your boosts perfectly but outside of having good timing, it’s hard to see where the real skill comes in. Maintaining your speed also becomes an annoying issue in later levels where your only option to get around really tight corners is to practically come to a screeching halt, throwing off any momentum you’ve been working towards.
The second mode, Demolition Expert, is a straight Angry Birds knock off that takes the full power of the Xbox One to show off some impressive destruction physics. A rotating arm launches pods – filled with idiots of course – at buildings aiming to knock down everything in sight. This simple concept gets more complex the deeper you go, introducing different styles of pods and actual roller coaster cars launched from a track to cause more mayhem.
As far as Angry Birds imitators go Destruction Expert isn’t bad. The swinging-arm mechanic makes aiming where you want to go difficult but the destruction model is very impressive. Knocking down major skyscrapers, watching them crash into neighboring buildings and exploding is definitely satisfying. Oddly this type of excitement peaks in the earlier levels because later levels get caught up in trying to create more challenge by limiting how far you can throw or putting force fields on things so you can’t destroy them. In reality, this mode is at it’s best when it just gives you a bunch of ammo, a bunch of buildings and lets you go crazy.
ScreamRide is developed by the same people behind the classic Rollercoaster Tycoon game and this is evident by the third mode: actually creating roller coasters. While there is a sandbox mode that lets you create to your heart’s content, the actual Engineer mode tasks you with either finishing a track or building mostly from scratch and gives you several objectives to complete, such as hitting a certain track length or keeping nausea below a certain level. Similar to Rollercoaster Tycoon, trying the find the perfect balance of excitement without stalling, crashing or ejecting your riders is a fun task.
Building roller coasters has never been as easy as here, where simple motions on the stick and triggers change height, angle and banking to let you create exactly what you want. A couple of button presses will insert a variety of special pieces such as loops, boosters or jumps. Again, the objective-based levels can limit what you want to do but luckily the game offers a sandbox mode if you do want to go nuts. The only real enemy here is the camera, which is a constant nuisance as you try to build you masterpiece.
ScreamRide is a really weird game in that it tries to meld essentially three drastically different games together under one unifying, futuristic, roller coaster-based setting. Destruction Expert is reasonably fun, even if it ultimately boils down to little less than an Angry Birds clones. ScreamRider is an unique concept but when it comes right down to it: it’s basically boring. The real star here is Engineer, which makes me wish the other two parts were just replaced with a theme park sim to stick this amazing roller coaster creation tool in. You can download tracks created by other people and the things there (even in pre-release) are some of the most fun in the game. No doubt brilliant things will crop up there, it’s just a shame there isn’t more of an actual game to go with it.
SCORE: 5.5 out of 10
A copy of ScreamRide was provided to Pixel Related for review.