How does one describe LocoCycle, the latest from the twisted minds at Twisted Pixel (see what I did there)? That’s the question I asked myself as I sat down to write this review. This is a game that is so absurd, so out there and so completely bonkers that it absolutely should not work, on any level. Yet miraculously, it kind of does.
So again, how does one describe LocoCycle? Let’s see, it’s an on-rails shooter with both brawling and racing elements thrown in for good measure. But honestly, that doesn’t even really begin to scratch the surface here. LocoCycle is a strange amalgamation of several different genres that provides for an experience that is quite literally, loco.
You play as I.R.I.S., a sentient motorcycle who isn’t a far cry from Portal‘s GLaDOS. Along with her mechanic Pablo (who only speaks in Spanish throughout the entire game), the two set off on a a tumultuous journey as they head towards Scottsdale, Indiana for a rally. Complicating matters is the company that manufactured I.R.I.S., the Big Arms corporation. Set on retrieving their creation, they’re in hot pursuit and together with Pablo, you must fend them off if you hope to reach your destination.
If it sounds absolutely ridiculous, that’s because it is. Twisted Pixel has a perverse sense of humor and adding to the wackiness of it all is live-action cutscenes using people like James Gunn, Freddy Rodriguez and Tom Savini to help tell the story. It makes no sense whatsoever but their is admittedly a great deal of laughs to be found due to the absurdity of it all. It’s tasteless, that’s for sure, but it can also be damn funny at times, if you’re ok with all the stereotyping and low-brow jokes that Twisted Pixel throws in.
As I mentioned before, this is an on-rails shooter, meaning your forward momentum is controlled by the game and you can only move I.R.I.S. left and right, for the most part. Throughout the entire thing you’ll be in control of the titular cycle from a third person perspective. As for Pablo, well, he’s dragged behind the whole way, as evidenced in the photo above.
On each level you’ll speed across an open area (and if you really want to speed you can use your boost) zigging and zagging through traffic as you make your way to Scottsdale. Of course, you’ll have to contend with the Big Arms corporation as well and that’s where the game turns into a shooter/brawler.
You’ll essentially have two types of combat to engage in. Long-range combat will involve shooting down the corporation’s cars that are chasing after you while short-range combat takes place when you have to melee various enemies that try to get up close and personal. Oh, and how can I forget, you’ll also have the ability to counter-attack during short-range combat.
Each level has three stages and they all end with a boss fight, of course. While some levels have you on the highway and some have you in more off-road areas (a few stages even after you driving over the ocean, if that makes any sense), they all play essentially the same. You’re propelled forward down a pre-defined path as you fight off enemies by either shooting them or using melee combat. After about twenty minutes, the stage comes to an end and a “mission accomplished” sign is flashed, at which point you can spend the points you earned (based on your performance in the level) to purchase upgrades before heading onto the next area.
And that’s really what LocoCycle boils down to. Throw in a couple mini-games and an unusually large amount of quick-time events and that pretty much sums up Twister Pixel’s latest effort. The gameplay is shallow here, there’s no denying that. There’s also very little challenge to be found as missing a QTE doesn’t seem to result in any punishment and you can get away with most of the melee combat simply by bashing the X and Y buttons repeatedly.
Admittedly, it can grow old pretty fast as you’ll face off against the same enemies using the same techniques over and over again and after an hour or so you’ll feel the repetitiveness start to set in. But something about LocoCycle keeps you hooked. It may be its spunky personality or maybe its just the “so bad that it’s good” feeling that the game emits. Whatever it is, at no point was I ever tempted to turn it off. Despite a lack of any real depth, and some questionable shooting mechanics, I can safely say that I mostly enjoyed my time with this one.
Visually speaking, LocoCycle isn’t anything to write home about, with graphics that look more like something on the Xbox 360, or even Nintendo Wii, rather than an Xbox One launch title. This is not the type of game that you’d use to show off your new console to your friends, but its cartoon-y look and feel does suit it quite well. LocoCycle is very much a small budget title, and it shows. Then again, at only $20 and coming to us from Twisted Pixel, I don’t think anyone is expecting Battlefield 4 level visuals.
LocoCycle is a launch title that unfortunately, won’t be accepted by too many gamers. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. A lack of depth does ultimately hurt it quite a bit, as does its repetitiveness. But between the oddball personality, wacky humor and insane premise, there’s enough to make the game stand out as a particularly interesting launch title.
Twisted Pixel is a talented studio, no doubt, and they have delivered some real gems in the past. It’s possible that their intention here was to truly create a game that was so bad that it’s actually good, much like we see with in movies some times, but it’s hard to tell exactly what they were going for. Nevertheless, for a good 4 or 5 hours LocoCycle provides some mindless fun and I’m not ashamed to admit that it is now a guilty pleasure of mine.
This review was based on the Xbox One version of the game.