Riskers is a top-down shooter that combines open world game play, top down shooting and driving. You play as Rick, a character out for revenge as he shoots his way through the criminal element.
Oct 17, 2017
Developer: ShotX Studios
Publisher: ShotX Studios
Genre: Action, Indie, Shooter
Rating: N/A (But Probably M)
In the spirit of Grand Theft Auto 2, Riskers is a top-down shooter that places you in the shoes of a man out for revenge after his brother is killed. Navigate through the city as your run, gun and race your way to the top. The game mixes gunning and driving, and there are side quests to do outside of the main story.
This is a very violent game. One of the side missions, for example, has you try to murder a certain amount of civilians in a set amount of time. The majority of gameplay has you shooting and murdering buildings full of enemies. Almost every challenge in this game has you either shooting someone or running them down, or racing to shoot someone. Blood is shown after anybody is shot.
Every character uses bad language in this game. The use of bad language is what you’d expect: the usual gambit of swear words. There’s also a lot of “Die! Die! Die!” type dialogue from enemies (as well as the protagonist).
The protagonist heavily implies he’d like to sleep with a kidnapped woman.
Riskers makes you appreciate other games more.
There’s a term in storytelling called “story collapse,” where minor inconsistencies or errors in a story begin to add up until you stop and try to correct those errors, which reveal even more errors, until the story falls in on itself. Video games have a similar flaw, and Riskers is the first game I’ve played in a long time that really collapsed in on itself. As I played this game, the flaws that appeared small began to grow and grow until the very foundations began to buckle. In this review, I’m going to address how the major flaws reinforce each other and make playing Riskers an overall unpleasant experience.
But before I get to the bad stuff, I want to point out that the top-down shooter part of the game, which makes up around 50 percent of gameplay, is actually a lot of fun. Most of the main story missions take you inside a building filled with baddies to kill. You usually start each level with only your fists and a bat, meaning you have to be stealthy until you get your hands on a weapon. From there, you have to go room to room until you reach the mission objective.
This is far and away the best part or Riskers. Playing these levels actually felt like playing a puzzle game. Each time I entered a building, I had the necessary tools at my disposal. Progression feels really rewarding, and slip-ups are annoying, but usually are deserved. Most of the deaths are due to poor situational awareness, and you can tell what you did wrong.
The rest of the game, on the other hand, is lackluster at best. The story is simple. You play as a guy named Rick who finds a suitcase full of cash in the garbage. He and his brother claim it, and soon after, a gang kills your brother. After that, all bets are off as you shoot your way through the criminal underworld to avenge him.
Riskers is like the Taken of the video game world, except without the charm or charisma of Liam Neeson to support it. It’s a very bland story with no likeable characters and no personality. Rick has no purpose out of “kill my brother’s killer”, the bad guys have no personalities and the side characters are cliché stereotypes that serve no real purpose other than to extend the game play.
The story isn’t helped in any way by the design. The game itself looks like a flash game you might have played in 2003. I’m not sure if it’s meant to evoke nostalgia or not, but on its own, Riskers is very dull looking. There are maybe seven or so different looks for PCs, and all the bad guys look the same. The city the story takes place in is very square and unnaturally regular. The music is forgettable, and often sounds like a ten second track looped over and over. People say weird, arbitrary statements on the street, and if you start shooting up a building, most NPCs won’t even notice.
For a game that boasts “Immerse yourself in the story through comic book-style cutscenes,” on its Steam page, the cutscenes are pretty bad. The characters exist in an uncanny valley, as if they were made from pictures of real people and then run through some filters. The cutscenes usually don’t last long, maybe five or six panels each, which makes it hard to establish character. Soon after playing, I lost track of who was who. And not too far into the story, the game throws a lot of names at you at once, and without distinct features or personalities, I quickly stopped caring.
The poor design choices made to tell the story make it more obvious how weak the story is, and the weak story make the poor design choices all the more obvious. But both of these also affect the gameplay.
Riskers actually has three main modes of play: the top-down shooter, the open world, and the driving. The top-down (again, the strongest part) takes up most of the gameplay, and the open world is usually used to get from one location to the next. The last part, the driving part, is the absolutely worst part of Riskers, and its horribleness spills over into the design and story, making a huge mess of bad game.
Driving in a top down game is really tricky. Riskers has a fixed perspective, meaning north will always be north and south will always be south. This makes driving difficult to adapt to, since driving is still relative to the car. It’s inherently confusing and takes a time to get used to. It’s not hard to pick up after a while, but driving in this way adds a level of mechanical difficulty to the upcoming challenges.
This compounds with the fact that the driving challenges are incredibly difficult. I spent an hour trying to pass the first race of the game. And unlike the difficulty of the shooting segments, the driving challenges feel very unbalanced and unfair. Every time your car hits something, it gets damaged and slows down. This is a real problem when you barely have enough time to complete the driving missions. One mistake and you lose. The difference between the top down shooter and the driving is that the mistakes you make in the driving section don’t feel like your fault. Traffic is randomly generated, meaning that more often than not, you’ll damage your car by hitting a car that wasn’t there before, and won’t be there again next time. How do you learn from that? The takeaway I got from the driving portions is not that I need to work on my skill or be more aware. I just need to get incredibly lucky.
The point where I shut the game off in disgust was a driving mission where I had forty seconds to drive across town. Completing this means your drive has to be perfect. You can’t make a single mistake. Otherwise you’ll move too slowly to make it in time. After trying for another hour to get to the end, I realized that there was no point. I wasn’t invested in the story, and the game certainly didn’t make driving fun.
This is not to say that games shouldn’t be difficult. Challenge is a good thing, but when the challenge comes from poor controls and random number generation, defeat feels much worse. There’s a solid line between challenging and punishing, and in Riskers, shooting is the former, and driving is the latter. The horrible driving levels in the end outweigh the fun shooting levels. And without a strong story to keep you playing, there’s really no point. And like an unholy trinity, the three aspects of bad story, bad design and bad gameplay make a game that’s almost unplayable.
There are games like Cuphead or Portal that require a strong understanding of games knowledge to complete it. Riskers would do well to learn from these titles. Both can be frustrating, but not punishing. Cuphead, for example, has a very polished presentation, making losing over and over seem less like a chore and more like an experience. Portal has a great story that is revealed through the game design, making completing challenges much more rewarding. Riskers has a forgettable story and makes aspects of the game play a horrible endurance test. In the end, it’s not really worth a play through.
If Riskers wanted to fix itself, it should overhaul the driving mechanics, or better yet, focus purely on the top-down shooting levels. As it is right now, I wouldn’t risk playing it.
And as a final note, there’s not much here for Christians either.
+Fun Shooting Levels
- Horrible Driving Levels
- Forgettable Story
- Bland Design