Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blue Rider (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

This Thursday sees a second review on SuperPhillip Central. This game released last year in the West, but it now sees a release in Asian territories as of this month. It's the white knuckle twin-stick shooter Blue Rider, and despite its colorful appearance, this is no easy game to beat! See why with my review.

Make way, Peter Fonda--This certainly is no easy rider!

Developer Ravegan's Blue Rider lulls you into a false sense of security with its initial easy first level and bright, vivid, and cartoon-y colors. Then, the second level comes, and you're faced with a stiffer challenge, but still rather doable for most players. By the third level, Blue Rider takes your butt to the cleaners, beats it black and blue, and questions your abilities as a gamer. Was I ever good at games? Did years of hand-holding and tutorials make me soft? Or is Blue Rider just deceptive in its looks and turns out to be one of the most challenging games I've played in a long time?

Blue Rider is a twin-stick shooter in a colorful world devised of nine stages. Starting the game presents you with no story, no plot, and no tutorial to speak of. You get greeted with the a picture of a controller showing what each input does. It's very simple and concise: use the left stick to move in conjunction with the right stick to rotate a full 360 degrees as you explore and shoot through the levels. You use the front shoulder buttons to get a short boost of speed, and the back shoulder buttons for primary and secondary weapon shots respectively.

Oh, I see you, first level, and how you make Blue Rider seem like it's going to be a leisurely time...
As stated, the first stage of Blue Rider is quite easy overall. It's relatively linear with very few side attractions to see. Enemies mostly shoot single bullets that easily avoidable while you unload a steady stream of bullets into your adversaries to vanquish them. Later levels then come in to make you seem foolish for thinking you were going to play a game without much challenge. Really, once the first level is over and done with, the difficulty of Blue Rider makes itself immediately apparent with more enemy types to worry about and bullets being spammed from all directions. It's not hard at all to find yourself surrounded.

...And then you turn boys immediately into men soon after.
Then there are the bosses that hide behind special doors, sort of like a twin-stick shooter version of Mega Man. Once these doors open and you enter inside, the most challenging portions of Blue Rider make themselves known. The first boss, a mech that fires different types of shots, increasingly more difficult in size, shape, and speed as its health lowers, isn't too taxing of a battle. However, then you face off against more demanding battles that ask more of your as a player. From a mechanical scorpion that shoots its tail at you while pelting the arena with bullets to a trio of worms that wish to make your escape from the fourth stage all the more seemingly impossible, these battles demand much from you to survive them.

The boss battles are a highlight of Blue Rider, and some of the most challenging parts of the game.
Thankfully, beating a stage means that if you die (and you WILL die), you don't have to start the game from the very first stage. You can begin from the last stage you reached. However, Blue Rider encourages starting from the beginning stage as you'll be much stronger to take on enemies in later levels. And don't even get me started on trying to run through the game's nine stages in one go while doing tasks like finding and destroying all three relics in each stage as well as beating all enemies in every stage.

As you might have surmised by now, Blue Rider is indeed a hard game to succeed at. But part of it is not all on the player. The vehicle that your pilot has the unfortunate problem of having too much inertia so it drifts slightly upon every movement of the analog stick. This is fine at first, and makes lining up shots a bit more challenging than it should be, but it gets very annoying when you're engaged in battles where enemies litter your surrounding area with bullets in true "bullet hell" fashion. It makes accidentally overcompensating and drifting into a stray bullet quite easy. Due to your limited health and how rare extra lives are (only being acquired at certain overall point totals), death becomes much easier than it should be.

Wonderful explosions. (Hey, they're wonderful as long as they're not your own ship, am I right?)
Furthermore, stages are rather involved affairs. You can go up to 15 minutes slowly moving through them because you don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're surrounded. Slowly picking off foes from afar while avoiding bullets is a smart thing to do. However, many bosses have attacks that can be one hit kills. There's nothing more maddening than carefully running through a level for 15 minutes only to arrive at the boss, make one mistake, and end up dying, having to restart the level from the very beginning. This doesn't even factor in that the view of Blue Rider is zoomed in a little too much, making it so on many occasions you'll be shooting at enemies that are just off the screen. Plus, it can be troublesome to be aware of enemies off screen that are attacking you. Nothing like backing up into a bullet being shot from an off-screen adversary.

As if your palms weren't already sweaty enough, now you're inside a volcano.
Despite these problems in both severe difficulty and level length, I overall enjoyed my time with Blue Rider. Even when I played through a full stage and ended up getting killed instantly by one stray boss attack, I felt encouraged and motivated enough to press on. Sure, I doubt I'll make it through the game's nine stages any time soon, but I feel that my time with Blue Rider was well worth it. Those easily frustrated should look towards an alternative experience while those who like a good (but sometimes unfair) challenge, should have lots to like about Blue Rider.

[SPC Says: C+]

 Review copy provided by eastasiasoft.

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