Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Frontier Developments
Platforms: Xbox One and Xbox 360
Price: $39.99 (US)
ScreamRide is a full-featured, physics-based coaster game where creativity and destruction are equally welcome. Push the boundaries of thrill seekers everywhere and take on your role as an engineer and demolition expert in order to complete each level in a variety of ways. Scream seekers can prove their precise piloting skills, engineers can solve cunning construction puzzles, and demolition experts can ignite the most explosive carnage possible.
You are assigned to a testing facility to experiment on various roller coaster riders. The more screams you accrue, the more points you get. In addition to riding roller coasters, you can also build them and crash them. There isn’t a very in-depth story mode to explain the reason for the gameplay itself, but I was none-the-less reminded of the testing facility in Portal.
There is purposeful violence, as you crash roller coasters filled with people into buildings, causing even more destruction. There is no bloodshed or missing body parts (fortunately).
There are three game modes. Essentially, riding (ScreamRide), crashing (Demolition), and building (Engineer). For the riding games, you experience a roller coaster from various perspectives while you lean, turbo boost, and accelerate in order to gain the most points possible. Gameplay reminded me of quick-time events in a race–dodging obstacles, or leaning to the left and right to avoid crashing. Though initially exciting, this game mode wears out its welcome very quickly. You don’t have much to do in the way of manipulating your roller coaster. You have to time your button presses to earn turbo boosts, which makes this mode feel more like a time-trial game than a roller coaster experience.
The crash mode is the most exciting and re-playable of the three. You launch riders, sitting inside a metal ball, into different buildings in order to create the most destruction possible. The more you destroy, the more points you get. Think of it as Angry Birds, but from a different perspective. You have to time your launching of the ball, and gauge the proper power levels for maximum destruction. If you are satisfied by ample amounts of smashing and crashing, you will likely find this game mode more your speed. Though not incredibly challenging, you will be faced with a variety of buildings that you can sling and crash your test “people” into.
The building mode allows you to be creative while building your roller coasters. You can create loops, twists, turns, and even jumps as you attempt to build a scream-filled ride for your digital people. If you enjoy games like Sim Coaster or Roller Coaster Tycoon you will enjoy this game mode. You do have limited resources and cannot build as you could in, say, Minecraft, and some of the camera angles can be frustrating, as you’re not always able to view your coaster the way you want to. After you’ve built your coaster, you can decide to take it for a test ride and see how it fares while people are riding in it.
ScreamRide looks like The Sims, imitating its cartoony graphics and a fun style. The colors are vibrant and the physics are everything you would expect from a current-gen game. The music is light and fun, but nothing too memorable or inspiring. Gameplay is simple, and the tutorials are extensive. You don’t have to dig through menus to figure out what to do in-game, and helpful guidance via narration is provided during certain points in the various game modes.
ScreamRide has a few moments of fun and even brilliance, but it isn’t anything that hasn’t already been done. With a $40 price tag, ScreamRide is a hard purchase to justify unless you have a fascination with simulators and roller coasters. It’s worth saying that I did experience a slight feeling of motion sickness while playing, though I have never before felt motion sickness while playing any other video game. All in all, ScreamRide isn’t a game I can see myself returning to, although my kids loved crafting their own coasters… and watching them crash.
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The Bottom Line
ScreamRide has a few moments of fun and even brilliance, but it isn't anything that hasn't already been done.