Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Warpfish Games
Published By: Warpfish Games
Category: Action & Racing
Release Date: December 19, 2018
Sometimes playing through a game where you learn from trial-and-error can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Other times it can feel like you’re ramming your head against the wall. I’d like to think that developer Warpfish Games’ RAZED is the latter, and for the most part I loved the premise, but it sometimes did flaunt too much with the frustrating side of things.
RAZED starts off rather quickly with you being in a race for your life as the shoes you’re bonded to will explode if you’re not moving. The story revolves around a nefarious developer trying to destroy the in-game world that forces you to wear the shoes. The developer is the antagonist and the boss you face at the end of each area. This means in the grand scheme of things that you’ll need to keep a power bar from dropping to zero or else you explode.
Your goal is to keep moving over a certain speed or pick up power crystals to fill the meter. For some reason though, the shoes can be upgraded and this is where you can see some of the humor in RAZED. The shoes will have playful and funny exposition with the left show providing instructions about upgrades, but the right shoe only wanting to explode.
As you complete courses, you’ll earn upgrades which include jumping, drifting , stomping, speed boosting, and wall running. They all add to the movement system and all these gameplay mechanics build on top of just running. With the upgrades the levels get more challenging and exciting, leading to a steady progression of skill based gameplay.
Unfortunately, the least exciting upgrade is probably drifting and most of the time it’s not useful. This is because most of the turns don’t require that degree of precision and it ends up making turning more difficult than it needs to be. I found the stomp to be the most game changing and is used to lower platforms and open new areas. It ca also push bombs that will knock down walls, which really changes up the way you approach certain areas. Some of the best and most difficult levels use this upgrade as well.
My main problem with RAZED is that there’s just not enough within the gameplay mechanics to provide for an overly satisfying experience. It can feel good to learn a level and become more proficient with hitting jumps, but it can also feel poorly implemented because of the unforgiving nature of the gameplay. Trying to cut a corner will stop you dead in your tracks and trying to land on the edge of a platform sometimes made me stuck there until I died, unable to move.
While the physics react accordingly to your characters movements, it can oftentimes be ruthless and want you to move through a level in a certain way. You’ll usually have only just enough energy to do what you need to do in order to complete the level. There’s rarely any opportunity for anything surprising to happen and almost no way to get lucky to save a run after a mistake.
That’s not to say there are not multiple ways the developer created for you to get through a level. There are some secret passages to find and it’s immensely satisfying to find them. You’ll even want to go back and replay levels with the new upgrades to see what you can bypass and get a better time. This provides much more replayability than just trying to get a lower time since there will be a new way to look at the levels. RAZED also includes online leaderboards and even options to run against the ghost of your best run for a particular stage.
There are over 60 levels in RAZED and they’re all very short meant to be played in short bursts. Most levels can be completed in around 30 seconds, but it oftentimes takes longer than that due to having to try and complete a level multiple times from dying. It should be noted that the boss battles are a nice departure from the normal levels. They’re similar, but the boss changes the level as you try and escape and this provided a much more exciting and tense experience.
The only problem with the short levels and patterned attacks coming from the bosses is that you’ll know what’s going to happen after you’ve seen it once. Your whole experience in RAZED will work like this and I had problems trying to make it through any level on my first try. Not from a lack of skill, but because the first time through is not enough time to react to certain unexpected events. However, once you’ve seen one scenario play out you’ll have no trouble judging what you need to do the next time.
Overall, RAZED can lead to frustration with the controls, but succeeded in making me want to come back for more. On one hand the levels are designed well, there are many different gameplay mechanics, and I appreciated the humorous narration from your shoes, but on the other hand the physics and sense of speed seemed to be off somewhat. After you do unlock all the upgrades though, going back through levels and mastering them can be gratifying. If you can overlook some of the more frustrating moments, RAZED has enough of a unique premise worth being checked out.