Blue Rider is a unique shoot em up game that doesn’t force you forward and lets you explore with little consequence. With a cartoon art style and cute enemies, you might easily assume this game is directed towards kids. It plays similarly to the recently released game Dogos and the not so recent Desert/Jungle/Urban Strike series from the Genesis days. Unfortunately, due to some design choices I didn’t have as much fun as I could have. While I am hopeful these choices will be fixed in post release patches, I will be sharing my thoughts on the product as it stands.
The story is pretty much non-existent in the game, you are the Blue Rider and you have to clear 9 stages of bad guy robot enemies, with a boss fight at the end. Your ship is equipped with primary guns with endless ammo and limited rockets for sticky situations. Your weapons can be upgraded mid-level by destroying certain structures, but they will disappear when you die or beat the level. In addition to shooting baddies there are also hidden relics, shoot them all for bonus points. Killing enemies adds to your rampage multiplier, the higher the multiplier the more points you will earn. You might have to disable some force fields or destroy structures, but most of the time your main objective is to get to the boss and defeat it.
The problem I had with Blue Rider is not that you have to be careful and manage your health bar, it’s the fact that there are no checkpoints and I haven’t even seen a continue. I was told by a friend that if your multiplier gets high enough you will earn a 1up; I’ve managed to get it to 6x and I haven’t seen anything. 6x might not sound like much but it takes a lot of enemy kills to move even from 1x to 2x. That’s a problem because this game without continues is just frustrating. It was so disheartening to take my time, get to the boss, nearly beat it and die. Now I know that there are only 9 stages and you don’t want to run through them all in an hour, but there should be a happy medium. You are forced to play the stages in order, so if you are stuck on level 1 or 2…that might be all of the game you see.
I like the graphical style, which is cartoony and simple. It will definitely appeal to young kids and parents won’t have any issues with them playing, as there is no blood or gore. Unfortunately, I doubt younger gamers will spend much time with Blue Rider due to the high difficulty. The controls work pretty well, but they are floaty. The best way to describe it is trying to control Super Mario when he is running on ice, it’s quite drifty. Thankfully enemy projectiles move pretty slowly, but you still need to be evasive or you will die quickly.
Blue Rider is a game that I really wanted to like, but as it stands now I just find it too frustrating. My suggestion to Ravegan is to take a cue from Krewe Studios (Action News Heroes), listen to feedback and make appropriate changes. Maybe give us a stock number of continues or just increase health spawns? If you are a fan of shmups and don’t mind a challenge, you will enjoy Blue Rider. Casual fans might want to hold off to see if any updates or changes come to fruition first.
Blue Rider is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam. Developer Ravegan provided a copy for the purpose of this review. I will gladly update my thoughts and the final score should any updates or patches come out in the future.