Screamride occupies a peculiar space in the current game market. It doesn’t feel like a big-name title, but it doesn’t feel low-budget, either. The game was also developed by Frontier Developments of Rollercoaster Tycoon fame. Screamride has been called the spiritual successor to the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise, and as a longtime fan of the series, I can say with confidence that Screamride is not the Rollercoaster Tycoon game you’re looking for. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with it.
Screamride is comprised of three distinct game modes, none of which include managing your own theme park. The first mode, ScreamRider, is by far the best of the three. In this mode you control a rollercoaster cart through a track, managing your speed, collecting boost power, and riding on two wheels through turns in order to collect more points. Go through a turn too quickly, and the coaster will derail. Each track has different challenges attached to it, such as riding on two wheels for a certain amount of time or completing the track as quickly as possible. This mode feels a lot like Trials Fusion in the best way possible. The camera is great and it conveys your sense of speed perfectly. The risk/reward of riding on two wheels for extra points is legitimately exciting, and the Xbox One controller’s triggers rumble as you lose balance, which is one of the best uses of that feature yet. I found myself replaying the same track over and over again to try to complete the track’s challenges. However, the controls feel a little unresponsive at certain times, and it’s always a little difficult to tell how fast is too fast. Maybe that’s on me, but sometimes I would derail the coaster and not really understand why. Regardless, the mode is very fun and unique. Unfortunately, the other modes largely disappoint.
The next mode, Demolition, is essentially 3D Angry Birds. You launch a cannonball at buildings and destroy them for points. You unlock other types of cannonballs that have different properties. The one real twist to this mode is that the cannonball is spinning, so you have to time your throw like a shot-put. Honestly, that aspect largely ruins it, as having to time the throw on top of working out the speed and trajectory makes the entire mode feel unwieldy at best. The one upshot is that this mode showcases Screamride’s fantastic destruction engine; large structures will fall apart piece-by-piece in fantastic ways. It’s fun to look at for sure, but it isn’t enough to save what is otherwise a pretty boring, uninspired game mode.
The third mode, Engineer, is the closest to Screamride’s Rollercoaster Tycoon roots. You fill in a missing piece of an existing rollercoaster in order to produce the most thrills without launching riders off the coaster or causing it to derail. Sometimes a level will ask you to purposefully launch riders off or crash the coaster. This is fun in theory; building custom coasters was one of my favorite parts in Rollercoaster Tycoon. However, the mode is hampered by finicky, oversensitive controls that make it difficult to keep pieces straight as you place them with the left thumbstick. It’s also extremely difficult to gauge how fast the coaster will be going after a hump or through a turn, leading to some derailments that left me scratching my head in confusion. Adding insult to injury, you have to sit through the entire animation of the coaster in order to see if your design works, and the piece you’re filling in is often towards the end. After failing a level multiple times and having to watch the coaster run over and over again I asked myself, “Am I having fun?” No, no I was not.
These frustrations are exacerbated by an unintuitive user-interface with very, very small text. I found myself constantly overlooking objectives and controls because the game made it so difficult to read the instructions. Thankfully, the game itself is very pretty to look at, with great lighting and animations. It’s all very fluid, and I liked the cartoony style of the characters — there’s certainly a charm to it.
At $40, Screamride isn’t necessarily a bad value. There are plenty of levels for all three modes, and a powerful level editor with the ability to download user-made levels assures there will be lots of content to come. However, only one of the modes is good. It would’ve been better if the game focused on the ScreamRider mode and ditched the other two. There’s a good time to be had in Screamride … it’s just that the other two-thirds of it feels so uninspired.
Invisible Gamer’s Screamride review is based on a review code provided by the publisher shortly before the game’s March 3rd launch.