With several titles under their belt, the folks at Twisted Pixel (Ms. Splosion Man, The Gunslinger) have firmly established their place as the zany developer, who chooses to inject a healthy dose of the absurd into their games. However, in doing so their games typically fail to deliver on most, or in some cases all, of its promises. LocoCycle is such a game.
While the Xbox One downloadable title has airs of creativity, from its FMV cutscenes to its unique approach to gameplay, the end result is terribly dull, endlessly repetitive, and, worst of all, not that funny. In the fight for most disappointing Xbox One launch game, LocoCycle has made a very compelling case for itself.
The story in LocoCycle is probably its most endearing attribute, but it could also be its most off-putting. Players take control of I.R.I.S., a sophisticated motorcycle with a mind of her own. I.R.I.S., as many robots are want to do these days, becomes self-aware, and sets off on a road trip to Scottsburg, Indiana. However, I.R.I.S. has an unexpected passenger in tow: a Spanish-speaking mechanic named Pablo who, besides being an overtly racial stereotype, has found himself inextricably connected to the back of the motorcyle. So, as I.R.I.S. makes her way across North America, with Pablo dragging right behind, players must out run, outgun, and outmuscle the government agency that wants her back.
Although that premise has potential, LocoCycle‘s execution is lacking across the board. Combat is divided into three types — melee, ranged, and quick time events — and the game rotates between each at will. I.R.I.S. is well equipped with a bevy of weapons, from front-mounted machine guns to the requisite turbo boost, but most impressive is her ability to leap into the air and fight enemies in hand-to-tire combat. Each type of combat offers something a little different, like the ability to counter various oncoming attacks or to use Pablo as his own weapon, but there’s little freedom given to the player. The game will dictate when it’s time for a melee or a ranged section. In fact, the only thing players can truly influence is I.R.I.S.’s lateral motion — almost everything else is, more or less, on rails.
When the game then jumps into its bombastic quick-time events, things get a little more varied, but only in the button prompts. The player is still being pushed forward, and even if they fail to correctly hit the button in time, the scene continues to progress. It could even be argued that, although LocoCycle offers the player some control in when to attack, when to dodge, and when to boost, the game just is one big quick-time event, which is, in itself, unappealing.
And, to make matters worse, the LocoCycle impedes player progress by giving many enemies an inordinate amount of health. There is a decent upgrade tree for improving I.R.I.S.’s attacks and bolstering her defenses, but the game still feels purposefully padded. It only took me a few hours to finish, but a lot of that time was spent hammering on the attack button more than 30 times per enemy. Granted, those enemy types vary from level to level, but when the combat doesn’t mirror that variety it’s hard to appreciate the effort.
Perhaps LocoCycle‘s one worthwhile quality is its FMV cutscenes, which are interspersed between the game’s five chapters. Featuring a cast of some familiar faces (director James Gunn, Grindhouse‘s Freddy Rodriguez, and Robert Patrick), these FMV scenes hearken back to those cheesy, poorly acted FMVs of yesteryear. Unfortunately, while the live-action segments are charming in their purposefully awkward execution, the humor in them falls flat. In some cases it’s even cringe inducing.
Similarly, the game’s overall humor is either too on-the-nose or so absurd it will barely make players crack a smile. From an overabundance of movie puns and references, to some borderline racist responses to Pablo, the game lacks that trademark humor we used to see from Twisted Pixel. With the humor almost completely absent, LocoCycle loses a lot of its life before it even begins. And once players jump into the game they will find its mechanics are either too basic or too repetitive to be engaging. In the end, getting through the game’s 3-4 hour campaign becomes more of a chore than anything else.
Additionally, it should be noted that the game’s visuals resemble that of a previous-gen game, and the load times are surprisingly long for a downloadable title running on new hardware. There may be a good idea buried somewhere within LocoCycle, but what Twisted Pixel delivered disappoints on practically ever level.
Have you had a chance to check out LocoCycle? What do you think of the game? Let us know in the comments below.
LocoCycle is available now for the Xbox One.