Throughout my time playing ScreamRide, I often found myself sharing the feelings of the riders sitting in the coasters on my screen: elated and overjoyed at some of the highest points of the ride, but also ready to get out when I hit some of the lows.
Creator Frontier Development claims that ScreamRide “reinvents the builder/action genre with a unique balance of creation, addictive gameplay and destruction”, and while a few modes did impress me throughout the game, I failed to feel it as a revolution for the genre as the developer hoped I would.
Visually, the game displays a wide array of colors and its scenery is appealing to look at, but it is hardly the best looking game I’ve seen on the Xbox One system. From the beginning, the tone the game sets is very quirky and often seeming tongue in cheek, thanks to the characters’ mannerisms and voice-overs.
The menus were easy to navigate after a little exploration, and the in-level interface was helpful at most times to remember the large number of controls and objectives. Technically, the game loaded quickly, and the option to replay a level was almost instantaneous. However, it did crash on me once while playing and often dipped in frame rate on levels that were very large or filled with many pieces and explosions. The camera tended to become wonky at times too.
To introduce yourself to the game and controls, ScreamRide’s Career mode offers 3 different playable options: Screamrider, Demolition, and Engineer.
Screamrider puts you in control of the car as it rides along the coaster’s tracks, offering chances to gain turbo for speed, perform jumps, and push riders to the limit of the curves. Demolition gives you control of a rotating arm which flings cabins filled with test subjects at various heights and speeds in order to cause a great deal of wreckage and explosions in certain areas. The third mode, Engineer, finally puts you in the role of the coaster designer, tasked with completing an unfinished coaster using a particular set of limitations in order to “Build to Thrill” the test subjects, or to “Build to Destroy” in order to cause maximum damage.
Of all three modes, I easily enjoyed Demolition mode the most, because it felt the most fresh and new to me out of all three, and the feeling of hitting the right spot on a building and watching it slowly explode and crumble never really got old. The “Build to Destroy” mode that appeared sometimes in the Engineer mode was a close second.
While it’s easily possible to breeze through each mode by just going through the motions, I found myself experiencing a lot more success and a lot more fun by actually thinking about the physics and strategy behind moves before I executed them. Knowing when to tilt a coaster on two wheels, or choosing the perfect spot and power with which to throw my cabins made these modes more than a ‘guess and hope I do it right’ than games like this can be.
Each level from each of these modes contains a set of 5 “commendations” that must be earned by reaching a certain score of points rewarded for completing the required task at hand. Gaining more commendations increases your security clearance needed to advance to the next section on the map, but by the third of six featured areas of the Career Mode world, I found myself earning less and less commendations with each level as they jumped in difficulty. A feeling of repetition began to set in for each additional level I was playing in these modes. Multiple bonus challenges for each level help extend replayability slightly, but these to began to feel similar between each level. New obstacles and items were also granted along the way, but I still found myself becoming bored with these modes sooner than I had hoped.
However, by the time I entered the Sandbox and Level Center modes, I was warmed up to the controls and feeling of the game. This is where the game really hit its stride. A game like ScreamRide is one that works best when it supplies players with the tools and sets you free. Sandbox sets you loose in creating any coaster, ride, and scenery that you may conjure up in your mind. Want to build a coaster that has 6 laps that lasts for 10 minutes with the challenge of not crashing the coaster? Or maybe you desire to add constant turbo spots for the player to gain speed throughout a course filled with all corkscrews? This is all possible in the creator mode, which is the exact editor used by developers to make the levels that already exist in the game. With a bit of Roller Coaster Tycoon knowledge preceding my time in the Sandbox mode, along with the experience I gained in Career mode, I found it easy to pick up and get creating.
It become clear quickly that some of the user-generated levels I stumbled upon in the Level Center mode were going to be some of my favorites I experienced throughout the entire game. With options available for choosing favorites, filtering by game mode, and rating each level, there was always a new level that had me excited to ride, destruct, and engineer; all modes that I found myself growing tired of earlier.
By the end, I understood what ScreamRide was attempting to do and appreciated their vision. Beyond popping in and out of the Level Center mode, I hesitate to say if I will ever return to the game’s main modes once they were completed. After many modes that failed to captivate or keep me, along with a few technical issues, I was left with mixed feelings overall. ScreamRide took me on a ride that surely had its share of ups and downs, but it’s a ride I can’t say I’ll return to very often.
Score: 3/5 (Decent game, nothing special, nothing awful)