Developed by Ravegan, Blue Rider is an action SHMUP (shoot ‘em up) recently released on the Xbox One. Typically, these types of games will forcefully have you scrolling either vertically or horizontally, but Blue Rider gives you full freedom of motion without the screen pushing you one way or the other. This could have been refreshing, but the stages are incredibly small and there is no real room for exploration. I do love me a good SHMUP, however, so I was excited to get my hands on this game.
Sadly, I was disappointed right off the bat. Upon booting up the game and entering the main menu, a screen popped up asking me who is signed in. No problem, many games do this so I chose my profile and excitedly hit the button to start the game. Much to my chagrin, the sign in screen popped up again so, once again, I chose my profile. Again it popped up…again I chose my profile. This cruel cycle continued for another solid minute or two before I decided to uninstall and reinstall the game. No change…same issue. I frustratingly got my keister off the comfy sofa and manually shut down my Xbox. Sitting back down on the couch, within the same imprint I had left just a moment before, I booted up the Xbox and let out a deep sigh as I launched the game once more. Again I was mocked by the same menacing and relentless “who is signed in?” screen. Suddenly…in a flash of sheer brilliance and ingenuity, I chose “sign out” and voila! I will not be able to earn achievements, but at least I can play the game. I’ve never known a game to have such a pernicious adversary at the title screen, but now that it is finally defeated…let’s continue.
I thoroughly enjoyed the graphics in Blue Rider. The art style is rather cartoony and the colors are crisp and vibrant. It is also satisfying to destroy the enemies because they explode in a cloud of smoke as the debris scatters across the ground. The stages also have a very nice look to them with the trees, running water, and boiling lava all helping to make each area come alive. You play as, I’m assuming, the Blue Rider in a large blue mech as he lays waste to all who oppose him. I say “assume” because there is not a single ounce of story to be had in the game. I can’t really hold that against it, however, because that is all too common with these types of games but a little something would have been nice. The title does confuse me a bit because I take the term ‘rider’ to imply passively travelling in something while retaining no active control in where it goes or what it does. Perhaps the game should have been called Blue Driver or, better yet, Blue Pilot. If I am to believe the man truly is just riding in the mech, why in the Almighty’s holy name would he risk death when he could just be safely chilling elsewhere as the mech autonomously wreaks havoc for him? Life is full of questions.
The enemies are not too varied in type. They are just other varieties of robotic mechs with similar courageous men also apparently riding in them simply for the thrill of it. The bosses, on the other hand, are quite varied with different methods of attack and challenge. Each of the nine stages of the game end with one of the said bosses and all are enjoyable. The music in the game is very run-of-the-mill. There should be some pumping techno beats to get you engaged, but instead you are forced to suffer through extremely bland and uninspired jingles. You have a health bar that depletes pretty quickly, but you can earn an extra life if you rack up enough points. At your disposal is a primary and secondary weapon as well as a type of thruster. There are two types of primary and secondary weapons you can acquire in addition to upgrading them if you collect the same power-up. You can also find various runes scattered throughout each level that give you extra points. A multiplier builds up as well when you get consecutive kills, but all of this proves rather pointless because there are no leader boards or any real incentive to strive for high scores. This causes replayability to be severely limited also due to the lack of any additional game modes outside of the nine various stages.
Movement can also be quite infuriating because you tend to glide which is a big no-no in games like this. When dodging massive amounts of bullets you need to have precise controls as you weave in and out of danger. The hit boxes can also be somewhat difficult to detect at times as well. There is the occasional frame stutter that can be annoying but I never died as a result.
All in all, this could have been an excellent game but it, sadly, falls short. The game can be fun from time to time but it gets stale pretty quickly. With the horrendous title screen glitch I encountered and the overall lack of polish, originality, and engrossing gameplay I would certainly say the Blue Rider should let someone else have his seat. Unless you are absolutely desperate or there is a killer sale…don’t waste your time or money. As Don Gibson sang back in 1958…”It’s been a blue, blue day. I feel like runnin’ away. I feel like runnin’ away from the blues.” This game must have been his inspiration.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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