Scrap Riders comes to us from Spanish developer Games For Tutti and is published by the French publisher Microids. Scrap Riders which was released on 9th Jan is available for PC via Steam and the Nintendo Switch.
We’ll be looking at the PC version, which comes in at £14.99/$17.99 and will require 4 GB storage.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, surrounding a cyberpunk-styled city “Uber City”, Scrap Riders is a pixel art adventure game which combines beat ‘em up and point ‘n click style gameplay, a Monkey Island meets Streets of Rage if you will, to offer a fun and witty title. That is when it’s not beating you over the head with its references.
You play as Rast, a member of the titular Scrap Riders. An outlaw biker gang of misfits. You start in Rasts quarters, wearing nothing but your underwear, gloves and a cute little red neckerchief.
From here, you’re introduced to the controls of the game’s point ‘n click segments. The game is designed to be played with a controller, but you can use your keyboard if you’d prefer. WASD to move, and IJKL to represent the four buttons typically found on a gamepad. You will now use your newfound skills to solve your first puzzle. You will be tasked with finding a game cartridge and an adapter to be able to use it with your SEN system. This also brings me to my first gripe with the game. Automation.
You see, for part of this, you will have to find a code to unlock a locker. Once you have the code, you click the locker. You don’t have to put the code in, it’s automated, and you’re given an adapter. Next, you have to open your inventory and combine the adapter with the cartridge. I’m not suggesting this be automated, working out which objects need to be combined is a classic feature of point ‘n click games. No, the part I took issue with was using the combined items with your SEN system. You have to stand near the SEN system, then open your inventory, select the combined items, and then press to use them with the SEN system.
It’s a minor gripe, but I just felt it felt a little outdated. Just let me stand near the object and press to interact with it and voilà, you’ve used the item! At first I thought, hey, maybe there is some kind of puzzle where you need to work out which item to use. But no, the game always makes it clear which item needs to be used.
Beat ’em up? Beat ’em all? Brawler? Who cares, let me punch things!
After you’ve completed this puzzle, you’re then introduced to a self-aware tutorial of the beat ‘em gameplay of Scrap Riders.
The two weapons you have available to you are your fists and a gun. Ammo is scarce in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, so you’ll spend most of your time fighting with your fists. The combat parts of the game are actually pretty fun and should come naturally to anyone who’s played any type of beat ‘em up game before. Though I admit, I’ve been playing a lot of Yakuza recently and Scrap Riders has the heavy attack and grab the opposite way around. So that was fun. Yay muscle memory!
Ana De Amnot
After this, you’re informed that an item you were tasked with delivering has been stolen by a rival gang. You’re then sent off on your first quest on your journey of bar fights, gang politics, corporate conspiracy and nonstop pop culture references. Seriously. Look, I love a good pop culture reference, I use them in my writing myself. I get it. But there are only so many references I can take before I sigh myself into a coma. And sometimes, Scrap Riders just straight up makes you ask when an homage becomes good old-fashioned plagiarism.
Now I know I’ve complained quite a bit about Scrap Riders already, and with the developer using translation tools instead of a localisation company, I’m unfortunately not finished yet. But we’ll get on to that later. Because I feel I need to reiterate this, Scrap Riders is a lot of fun. For every ‘member berry, there is a joke about a scientist splitting the atom and forgetting how to put it back together.
The game plays well and each area has distinct and beautiful set pieces for you to explore. The cast is fun to interact with. Even your sardonic robot guide, 50N1, whose only purpose is basically to remind you what you are supposed to be doing, should you forget, and resents you for asking. There is enough variety in the combat between regular combos, special attacks and gunplay that it doesn’t get stale and the boss fights present an actual threat. Sure, Rast as a character himself is a bit two-dimensional, pun intended, but Scrap Riders is a solid game. It just needs a bit of polish.
Is it all really that bad?
“So basically you’re just being picky Vinno?” I hear you saying. And to be fair, yes, mostly. Some of my gripes may not bother you at all. It could definitely be argued that they’re insignificant enough to overlook. But the dialogue was incredibly jarring, and for such a dialogue-heavy game, it was a problem. As stated, Spanish developer Games For Tutti used translation tools instead of a localisation company which leads to the odd bit of dialogue seeming out of place. It’s a small team, so I can forgive this, and honestly, most of the time it’s just amusing.
The main issue was that the text boxes were just too damn small. Not only is this not great from an accessibility standpoint, but it also results in the text boxes not showing complete sentences. It completely throws you off and takes you out of it. You have to try and keep that last word in each text box in your head as you press next. It may sound like a nonissue, but this was the thing that annoyed me most about my time with Scrap Riders. Just make the damn text boxes bigger.
Now, if there was one thing I had 0 complaints about, it was the soundtrack. From the upbeat funky synthy track that you’ll hear on the titles, to the lackadaisical thumbing of a bass guitar in the wasteland bar, everything fits and complements the area magnificently. I loved it.
Yes, the pop culture references, can be a bit much, but hey, for a game set 800 years in the future, I guess it’s nice to know that the classics have really stood the test of time. The game plays well, I only came across one bug, which came when I was trying to interact with my bike to change areas. Rast was on the opposite side of the bike and couldn’t get around to start the animation, which resulted in him being stuck and me having to exit and reload. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that it also isn’t a demanding game. My FPS was consistently in the hundreds. It looks astonishing, the pixel art is lovely and the soundtrack just complements everything.
It blends beat ‘em up and point ‘n click gameplay well. The point ‘n click segments find a nice balance between being infuriating while trying to work out how to advance like in games like Broken Sword and being a walking simulator like Telltale Games titles. It’s not the longest game. It will only take you 3-5 hours to get through. But it feels like it’s exactly as long as it needs to be.
Scrap Riders is a compelling little title that’s a little rough around the edges, and I had a blast playing it. You should definitely check it out if you’re interested in beat ‘em ups, point ‘n clicks, or both.
Scrap Riders punches out a Thumb Culture Silver Award for itself.
Will you pick up Scrap Riders for PC, or will you opt for the Nintendo Switch version? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.