Developed by Frontier Developments, and what is being called a “spiritual successor” to their Roller Coaster Tycoon empire, ScreamRide nails the successor bit but that’s where the similarities end.
It’s a new take on the simulation genre, an evolution geared to appeal to a larger range of console gamers. A lot like a roller coaster itself, ScreamRide is all about fast gratification that is over quickly and no-strings-attached pick up and play that you can revisit briefly over and over again. It lacks the long term gameplay of the Tycoon series in the sense that the traditional end game of building an ever improving and attendee-pleasing has been completely removed.
ScreamRide is made up of 2 different game modes. Here’s a breakdown:
This is the meat of the game, where you will play through pre-made coasters and rack up points by completing objectives in 3 different types of gameplay. First up is…
The simplest of the 3 game modes, ScreamRider lets you take on the role of roller coaster conductor by driving a car full of living crash test dummies along different tracks, racking up points on your S.I.N. (screams, intensity and nausea) meter and getting to the finish line with the most style.
While simple and quick, it still requires a certain amount of skill. You’ll be navigating tight turns, learning to apply the brakes and tilting your cart to keep from derailing while trying to unlock objectives. Hitting X at the right time to collect Turbo, using Turbo, riding on two wheels and eliciting screams from your fares all add to your score.
You know that kid who knocks down everyone’s LEGO creation at daycare? Demolition Expert is the gameplay incarnation of that tiny terror. The premise? Here’s a structure: destroy it, and try to make it interesting. By flinging cabins and coasters filled with the same NPCs at buildings and through hoops, making them bounce around and careen into the most structures possible to unlock objectives. You’re rewarded for inflicting the maximum amount of carnage possible which is fun but a little shallow.
ScreamRide‘s physics engine is its crown jewel and it does find its shine in Demolition Expert. Watching entire buildings collapse in on themselves will leave you feeling satisfied. This, along with the effort it takes to perfect the aim, velocity and piloting of your projectiles, is why you’ll probably find yourself spending the majority of your time with ScreamRide in this playground.
The most low key of the 3 Career modes, Engineer presents you with a half finished coaster and its your job to complete it in a way that will meet objective requirements (Build to Thrill or Build to Destroy) and, once again, rack up points for style by keeping an eye on your S.I.N. meter. The only reason to play Engineer, with Editor being only a menu away, is unlocking more items to use when you let your imagination take over.
Editor is where you’ll build your own coaster from the ground up using the bits and pieces you’ve unlocked via playing in Career mode. With an array of track and coaster types, scenery and level props you can build everything from the roller coaster from hell to a roller-mini-golf course. It’s easily the most detailed, fleshed out game mode. Think Project Spark but for thrill rides.
Being limited to a controller makes the placement of objects and tracks a little bulky at first and I found myself wishing for a mouse and keyboard but, as with everything, practice gives way to easier use of the controls. Sandbox also introduces another winning feature, the Level Center. Share your creations, either as a complete level or a blueprint, with other players. User Generated Content is a defining factor for games that allow creation, and ScreamRide does it right.
Each mode feels like a mini, standalone game rather than pieces of a whole. Even though there is an overlap (i.e.: unlocking items for Engineer by playing ScreamRider) the feel of each is very different, making it ScreamRide feel like a collage of small arcade games rather than a single, cohesive game.
Visually, ScreamRide is nice but rather simple. The environments and character design are meant to be futuristic but the minimalist design is almost too lacking, making even the best acts of destruction a little boring to watch.
All in all, if you’re less interested in the management aspects of most simulators (rankings, approval rates, upward growth, etc…) and more about the (literal) bang for your buck, ScreamRide is more than enough to satiate your thrill seeking. If you’re looking for something that is more traditional and leans towards the commitment side of things, this title can wait for Games with Gold.