Defy the laws of physics and all deemed sane in ScreamRide; where you ride, create and destroy.
ScreamRide is a fun, thrilling rollercoaster creator brought to you by the folks over at Frontier Developments, who are also the developers of Rollercoaster Tycoon. ScreamRide, unlike games of the genre before it, is designed for you to cause absolute chaos wherever possible.
Do you like chaos, destruction and screaming? Then ScreamRide might just be for you. With its ridiculously complex and wonderful coasters, chance to demolish buildings by tossing passengers in their pods (Yes, really) in Demolition Expert mode and finally the ever addictive building mode where you can design and create your own thrill monstrosities, jump in and test them yourself in Engineer mode. There’s something for everyone.
The Career mode gets you to grips with becoming a pilot in ScreamRider mode first and how to control a coaster once you’re on it. Best learn quick, because if you aren’t keen on getting your car on two wheels to dodge obstacles, chances are you’re gonna derail… A lot. But one of the joys of Screamride is that you don’t get penalised for veering off the track at 80mph, in fact you get to take sadistic delight in watching your test drivers rag doll into obscurity as the car blows up and destroys an entire building. It’s incredibly satisfying, but can get frustrating if you’re desperately trying to make that one hairpin turn to finish the level but keep mucking it up.
But don’t worry too much about your riders. See, you’re in a testing lab. It’s not actually a theme park or anything like that, these test dummies might be people, but they’re more than thrilled to be catapulted into complete destruction with a big grin on their faces. Death is not something these guys fear, and their rag dolling is truly hilarious to watch on the first few times you derail. It’s made clear through these zany (and frankly insane) riders that they’re just happy to be here and happy to be tossed to their imminent doom, to encourage you to give them just that.
The game is heavily physics based and the engine totally solid. In ScreamRider, if you take a sharp turn too fast, you’re gonna derail. If you don’t go into a jump without enough speed, you’re not gonna make it. Likewise in Demolition Expert, if you place a well aimed car at the bottom of a tower and take it out, that entire building’s gonna go down. With physics like these, it makes it so that you tackle the game and its three modes with a lot more strategy then you’d perhaps expect. Some materials in Demolition Expert are far tougher than others, so you need to make sure where you throw your cars counts. See those bright red sections? Explosives. Hit ’em and hit ’em hard, watch the entire building explode into a thousand little pieces and rack up those points.
Points are the best and also the worst thing about this game. Everything is so heavily score based and in Career mode you need to achieve a certain amount of points in order to advance to the next stage. On each level there are optional objectives that you can hit to try to get a higher score, which perfectionists will no doubt toil over as they try to get five out of five objectives. Some of the challenges are things like ‘Fill the Turbo to 100%’ or ‘Ride on two wheels for 30 seconds’ and ‘Complete the course in under a minute’, though don’t think that these are always easy to obtain. You’re guaranteed a few hair tearing moments if you want to nail it, though just racking up those points can be hell in itself sometimes if you just can’t handle that one turn and struggle to progress, like I did. I rage quit, won’t lie, but after a nice cuppa and a biscuit to calm myself down I returned and finally managed it.
In the Career setting for Engineer mode, I definitely found myself having a bit more fun. It’s the perfect way to jump into how you want to build your own coasters in the future, when you want to go for a more sandbox approach and build from scratch, but hitting the Career first is an absolute must so that you can get your head around the controls and features that you ought to consider that you may not know about going straight in to build from the beginning. In this mode, its your job to complete existing coasters to certain specification, which is where you’ll learn more about G-force, nausea rating and things that you don’t really get told about if you skip it.
In the time you’ve done all of the Career mode levels, which are easily attainable if you have a couple of hours on your side, then you can then consider yourself ready for the Sandbox mode. Now honestly I’m the kind of person who usually likes to jump to Sandbox first and have a mess around, but in Screamride it looked deleriously complicated when I tried to start building. I think I messed around for about ten minutes before bailing out. That’s when I went to go do some Career Engineering instead, so then by the time I’d finished those I could go back to the Sandbox and go ‘Ooooohhh I get it now.’ Once I understood it, this mode is easily the best thing about this game. It’s incredibly complex and contains a ludicrous amount of detail, with a whole host of parts and features that you can incorporate into your rides.
The main gripe about Sandbox, but this applies to all the modes really, is that there can be some really frustrating camera angles. In ScreamRider, when you derail in the hopes of taking down a building (which I can guarantee you will want to do) the camera snaps to your riders rather than the car. Now this is fine, but the problem is that your riders just bounce off of the buildings like tennis balls and you can just see in the corner of the screen, out of sight, the car tearing into the side of a building to do a ridiculous amount of damage… That you can’t see. There’re a few issues with invisible walls in Engineer mode as well. The only solid mode out of the three in that respect appears to be Demolition Expert, but that’s because you’re in a fixed position with the catapult the whole time rather than actively moving around.
There’s also the option of looking into rollercoasters that have been made by the community to test out as well. Already there’s been a huge amount of creativity shown by other players online, it’s definitely something to have a look at. It’s a bit like when you get to explore these crazy awesome maps on Minecraft, you’ll try out these rides and just be awestruck at the innovation and the sheer effort people put into these things.
Despite this sadistic wonderland, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of this game. The polish on it just shows that a whole lot of love went into it which I truly appreciate, but the problem I have I don’t think will be a common one. See, part of the joy in the nature of games like Rollercoaster Tycoon was to create those death defying coasters that terrify the living daylights out of your riders (and maybe kill a couple of them, oops) was that in those games it was taboo. You had to come up with more creative ways to cause havoc without your approval rating going down, in this game you’re encouraged to just wreak chaos as you see fit. Which is great, of course! But it just takes away that edge, I think. There’s not enough grip here to keep me playing for hours on end, in fact, all this game actually did was think ‘Man, I miss Rollercoaster Tycoon’ and I actually ended up loading that up again to get a fix.
I think that Screamride is an excellent base for something bigger. I think perhaps if this were incorporated into a bigger theme park setting, rather than a coaster specific testing lab, that you could get a really get a more wholesome experience with. That was one of the greatest achievements of Frontier’s, to create an engaging and interesting park simulator. This is definitely a step in the right direction for the studio, because I know I’d buy the heck out of a game with Screamride’s features in a theme park style game! Why put a coaster into testing mode and let it run automatically when you can personally test it yourself?
Never the less, this is a thoroughly enjoyable game. When you’re getting tired of piloting, you can just jump over to one of the other two game modes to switch things up. It’s not the most gripping of rollercoaster sims out there, but it’s definitely unique in its approach to the genre.
This review was based on the Xbox One edition of Screamride, provided by Microsoft.