ScreamRide Demo Impressions | MOUSE n JOYPAD

ScreamRide Demo Impressions



Before having played the demo of ScreamRide, I really didn’t think this kind of game was for me, given that it was described as a “construction and management simulator”. I hadn’t watched any trailers or gameplay videos, and had only briefly read the game’s description on Wikipedia, so I went into this with little to no bias and a fresh set of eyes. To my surprise, I really enjoyed this game.

You’re a faceless, nameless employee working for Screamworks; an enigmatic company that constructs various amusement rides and attractions, in which your work will be “an important part of [their] long-term plans, which are currently classified.” Oooh! How creepy.

The demo only allows for access to Series 1: The Populous Labs location, though there are 5 more to unlock in the full game. Additionally, only the first level for each career path is accessible.

It’s a kind of management and physics simulator combined, revolving around completing various jobs in different careers in a futuristic amusement park setting. I say “careers”, but maybe that’s not a fully accurate description of the gameplay. After selecting the Career option on the main menu (which is the only option to choose from in the demo version, excluding the option to go to the Xbox Game Store), you can choose from 3 different career paths with drastically different gameplay and goals: Screamrider, Demolition Expert, and Engineer.


In this career, you take control of a rollercoaster car with passengers riding in it. You accelerate with the Right Trigger, brake with the Left Trigger, hold A to use your boost (when you’ve got some), and use the Left Stick to shift the car’s weight distribution, in order to prevent yourself from derailing when going fast on a turn or when trying to make it ride on only 2 wheels, which gives you a score bonus.

The aim of this career is to finish the track as quickly as possible and achieve the highest possible score, which the game refers to as a “scream rating”. You can collect boost by pressing A while riding on a blue boost track. The longer you wait to press A, the more boost you’ll get. All of these aspects add up to produce your final scream rating.

At the end of the track you have the opportunity to destroy a building with your car for extra score. Just make sure you’re going fast enough and that you use that after burner at the right time.

Demolition Expert

This career path will be favoured by those who enjoy destroying stuff, like the title suggests. You control a swinging arm ride that can be equipped with 2 different cabin types (yes, these cabins do contain passengers, too): a standard ball-shaped cabin and a one that splits into 3 parts when you press A, to do more damage. You can also use the Left Stick to aim where your cabin will go, hold the A button down to slow down time and see the trajectory of where the cabin will go, and use the Right Trigger and Left Trigger to increase and decrease the speed at which the arm spins, respectively.

The aim of this career is to cause as much damage to the environment as possible and, like every other career, achieve the highest possible scream rating from your passengers, whose futuristic exosuits protect them from any injury, even when hurled at things that make a big boom when hit with the cabin. Bonus points can also be earned by destroying electronic signs, hitting green target discs, and by causing chain reaction explosions.

It’s a fun mode that is somewhat strategic, given that you’ve only a finite number of cabins to launch and that there are special objects to destroy to get higher scores. Think Angry Birds, except with real explosions and people, instead of birds.


This career will be best-suited to people who enjoy physics simulators. The aim of the game here is to build a rollercoaster track that, you guessed it, gets the most screams out of its riders and gives you the highest scream rating score. You have a fair few tools available to you in the demo version, such as boost tracks, brake tracks, and pre-made track sections like loops and other crazy formations.

Once you’re happy with your track, you can test it and watch a roller coaster train (not controlled by the player) and its passengers have a go on your custom track. It’s a great deal of fun to sit back and see your masterpiece tried out. It’s even more fun when you realise that you suck at engineering and that those sharp turns weren’t such a good idea. If a test ride failed (i.e. you didn’t reach the end of the track), the game will highlight areas of the track that have certain attributes, such as areas of high speed, high intensity, where passengers were ejected from the car because of a fast sharp turn, or where your coaster train collided with something, and more. The physics engine is in full play here and I’m sure many will choose to build structurally unsound tracks, just to enjoy the ensuing disaster. I know I did.

I found it very easy to make my own track and had a lot of fun doing so. One glaring omission, however, is that I could not find any way of completely scrapping my track design. Instead, I was forced to repeatedly press B to delete every section of the track one by one, or would have to revert to the world map and re-enter into the career and level, which was a tad annoying and inconvenient.

Additionally, each level in each career path has certain criteria that have to be met in order to receive a commendation. Up to 5 can be awarded simply by getting incrementally higher scream ratings, though there is a bonus gold commendation, which can only be achieved by completed all bonus challenges for that level, such as those asking you to “Charge turbo to 100%” and “Deplete a full turbo bar in one go and without derailing”.

To summarise, I had fun playing this demo. The world of Screamride is quirky, comical, and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is evident by its arcadey aesthetic and characters’ laughable dialogue and comments during some of the gameplay and in the cut scenes. In many ways it reminds me of games like Trails Fusion and the character models are reminiscent of those found in the Sims games, though maybe that’s just me. Perhaps I just have my conspiracy hat on, but I can’t escape the feeling that there is something more sinister going on here, from a lore perspective, which gives it quite an enticing feel.

It offers a lot of variety with its 3 career paths and vastly different gameplay. While the game is aimed at kids, surprisingly, it has a PEGI 12 rating (yep, something more sinister is definitely going on here), I think gamers of all ages will find something to enjoy in this game, if the demo is any indication.

From a graphical standpoint, I wasn’t impressed. While I did play the Xbox 360 version of the demo, I felt some of the visuals didn’t look as good as they should have, even considering that it was running on previous-gen hardware. While the art style doesn’t call for hyper-realistic textures, it seemed as though some detail was missing and character clothing didn’t look too great up-close in the cut scenes. This may just be the result of the demo not being representative of the final product, or it may be that not as much work had been put into the 360 version of the game. Let’s just hope the Xbox One’s visuals fair a whole lot better.

The music in the game consists of digitised beats and ranges from relaxing to upbeat and more energetic. It’s a great choice and fits the tone of the game really well. No qualms here.

The voice acting on the other hand isn’t the best. It isn’t the worst and is certainly adequate, but I had hoped the female roboticized voice that guides you through the game was a little less robot and had more character to her, especially given that some of her comments are darkly comical. I feel there was an opportunity missed here to have an AI character like GLaDOS from the Portal series added in here for comic effect and to otherwise create a memorable character where there are none, as is the case here. This may have been their intentions, but from what I’ve experienced in this demo, the actress’s’ performance is comparative to Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Dinklebot in Destiny.

Screamride was developed by Frontier Developments and published by Microsoft Studios. It is set for release on the 3rd March in North America and 6th March in Europe on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.