By Joseph Puntschart / June 29th, 2017
|Platform||PS4, Xbox One, Steam|
|Age Rating||ESRB E10+|
Blue Rider was a very interesting game to have spent time with, especially given that it was a different kind of game to what I usually play. Developed by Ravegan, the title was originally released on Steam last year as well as PS4 and Xbox One. It is a twin stick shooter and is a very challenging one at that.
The controls are easy to come to grips with. The controls also work fine and feel natural and instinctive. There are nine stages that the player will have to proceed through and well-done controls help greatly here.
Graphically, Blue Rider is nothing special. The visuals are attractive and fit the aesthetic of the game well especially given the generic choice of settings (not too dissimilar to those seen in a Super Mario game) but there is a decent amount of variety within this generic range. There was also the occasional glitch where enemies can get stuck inside the walls, however this was rare. The music fares better, as the simple yet infectious tones helped develop the atmosphere of the title.
This is very much a game that throws you straight into the action. It is an arcade game, where you have to clear the stages while destroying enemies as you go. There is no story or world development to speak of, this is pure arcade action. The enemy variety is good, with enemies getting progressively harder and more resilient the further in you go. There are obstacles such as chasms and electric beams that you have to avoid and/or destroy to progress. The action is fast paced, and you cannot afford to glance away from the screen for very long otherwise.
Unfortunately, the game is very weak in the accessibility department. There is only one difficulty setting, no checkpoints nor the ability to skip stages that the player finds too difficult to handle. The game is very challenging, which is fine, however games that are challenging should always have ways to limit frustration and with Blue Rider there were no such methods in place. This meant that the game was a very frustrating experience for me, with stages having to be replayed from the beginning every time I got a game over.
There is also a huge difficulty spike between the main stages and the bosses. While with the stages themselves there was some degree of freedom as to how to approach the enemy onslaught, with the bosses there isn’t as much. Furthermore, there is little margin for error with the bosses, where if you make one wrong move you can potentially be killed in one hit on some of these enemies. For example, with the Worms boss there are large yellow spheres that bounce around the stage that can destroy most of the player’s HP in one hit.
Subsequently, I wasn’t able to finish Blue Rider after spending over 20 hours with the game and beating over half of the game’s 9 stages, which is a shame as I did like the game’s design. Had there been more accessibility, I likely would’ve been less frustrated with the title and would have finished it. For example, adding a checkpoint between the main stage and the boss, so that the player does not have to replay the stage again to fight the boss. To the developer’s credit, there is the ability to earn an extra charge if the player accumulates 25,000 points, however this isn’t guaranteed on a single stage run especially as it depends on acquiring point multipliers via luck and defeating enemies in rapid succession. I was repeating the stages over and over again till I got to the point that I got fatigued playing the title, which is a shame.
To conclude, while I am inclined to recommend Blue Rider to the hardcore shmup fans as they may find some enjoyment out of this high difficulty curve (there is also a limited physical release available on Play-Asia if you prefer physical copies) I do think that due to the difficulty of the game I would suggest others stay away from this title. That said, I would be interested in playing future Ravegan titles but only if they improve the accessibility as the basic foundation here is a good one indeed.
Review copy supplied by publisher