Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One
You’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘Screamride’ is a theme park/business simulator similar to classic games like Theme Park and Rollercoaster Tycoon. The game’s trailers made it seem as though players will be building all manner of rollercoasters, with the ultimate goal being to deliver the ultimate thrill to your park’s visitors. Instead, developer Frontier Developments have opted to deliver three different game modes with Screamride, each with their own distinct style of gameplay, but is the game any fun?
Screamride may not be a business sim like Frontier Developments’ Rollercoaster Tycoon and the recent Zoo Tycoon, but it does offer the player (and the park visitors) thrills and fun in what is a pretty unique game.
There are three game modes in Screamride: Engineer, ScreamRider and Demolition Expert. Engineering mode tasks players with finishing a rollercoaster with limited parts and resources. This mode acts as a jigsaw puzzle of sorts, though one that sees players having to fulfill certain requirements in addition to finishing the track.
Engineer mode is entertaining, especially when you get to test the track or watch park visitors ride the finished coaster. It also requires a fair amount of thinking from the player, as different parts can offer advantages and disadvantages. While the tutorial is adequate, it’s going to take a little trial and error from the player to figure out how to build the optimum track that delivers screams and accomplishes objectives. Out of all the game modes, it would have to be my least favourite, as it feels like a very small part of what could have been a full theme park simulator.
Next up, is ScreamRider mode, where the player pilots a rollercoaster car around the track, in an attempt to deliver an adrenaline rush to the riders inside the car. There are also optional objectives to complete, though these can become extremely frustrating. A great deal of them are fun, but I would also argue that the harder ones are as frustratingly difficult as they are to serve as padding for the game. The longer the player is stuck on completing that one last objective, the longer it takes them to complete the game.
ScreamRider mode employs a high risk, high reward style of point system. Should players use a lot of turbo and balance on two wheels, they’ll be rewarded a higher number of points then if they were to ride in a fairly safe manner. You can, of course, be launched off the track if you are too risky in your piloting, so learning the curves and details of each track is necessary to score big.
For what it’s worth, I enjoy ScreamRider mode, though I would have preferred more tracks and less difficult objectives. While Screamride has a fairly wide appeal, I can see both adults and children alike growing weary of retrying objectives over and over.
Last up, is Demolition Expert, which is truly bizarre. In it, players will demolish their own theme park buildings by hurling park visitors in a pod directly at them. Buildings will crumble, explode and rain down upon other park visitors. Demolition Expert is fun, though it feels like somebody at Frontier wanted to push the destruction engine from ScreamRider mode to its absolute limits. It feels like Angry Birds though if you had to name it based on the same literal sense as Angry Birds, you would call it “Stupid People” – I mean, what person in their right mind would volunteer to be thrown at buildings at breakneck speeds?
Once again, there are optional side objectives to complete in Demolition Expert, though these don’t feel tacked on like in ScreamRider mode. There are targets, trampolines and hoops littering each level, providing unique opportunities for aeronautical prowess. There is a great deal of fun in bouncing your ScreamRiders off a trampoline and into a building’s weak spot, and watching the entire building come crashing down.
Content-wise, there is a fair amount of content for Screamride’s price tag, though the game’s lasting appeal is going to differ from person to person. It might not appeal to your more hardcore gaming crowd, but families and kids will find it entertaining, especially those who like Angry Birds.
It must be said that Screamride has a fantastic soundtrack, with the bulk of the tunes sounding like Australian electronic act Pendulum. It’s so good that I’m willing to bet most fans of electronic music would buy it on its own if it were available.
Screamride is an enjoyable title that offers diverse gameplay and a decent amount of bang for your buck. While the game does have limited appeal, those who are willing to give it a go will enjoy the ups and downs of this wild ride.