I have a deep, dark part of my life that I’d thought I’d locked away. I swore to never, ever open that door in my mind again. It pains me now, to think about how many hours I put myself through it…
…oh, I haven’t killed anyone. I just put a lot of time into the Trials motorbike games. At one point, I was 137th in the world at Trials HD. Many an hour was put into those games, yet as they got harder and harder, and the requirements for platinum level trophies got tougher, the interest was waning. I saw the light, and a little voice told me there was more to life than trying to beat JohnnyFartknocker123 by half a second on a level. I conceded, and discovered new and less competitive ways to enjoy gaming.
So thanks then, Razed, for bringing back the “Argh you sodding, no I was on that ledge, what do you mean I fell off?!” internal rage that I thought I’d left behind. You and your bloody addictive, one-more-go gameplay.
To say it’s difficult is an understatement. There are no tutorials, save for when you get a new ability, and even then it’s a single line of text on how to use it. It’s up to you to figure out when to use it. It’s got a learning curve so steep it’s practically vertical from the get go. That doesn’t make it a bad game, though. It’s a game about literal speedrunning, so allow me to break this marathon game down for you.
Now, the comparison to Trials was aimed at the difficulty, not the gameplay. The basic premise is more akin to Temple Run, or Sonic Dash: fixed camera behind the player, levels rotate to the direction you turn. You obtain a host of skills as you progress, and can come back to previous levels with newfound skills to beat previous scores, collect upgrade points and such, but we’ll come back to that.
The first ability you have is a simple jump, and the caviat with that is your energy meter. You see, around your character is a circular bar of energy that depletes any time you’re not moving. Sounds simple enough, right? Much like the Keanu Reeves movie about the bus that couldn’t slow down, the shoes explode if you lose momentum. Don’t stop, don’t die. The snag is that jumping takes a large portion of the bar, usually equating to one jump at a time, and not in quick succession. Energy will replenish as you run, and can be sped up by collecting crystals dotted around levels. It creates a mean little dichotomy though: hop over a semi-avoidable pitfall, and not have the energy to jump to the next platform, or navigate said pitfall/spike pillar/crusher at speed to ensure you have enough power to jump safely.
It adds a nice creative flair to the often repetitive pattern of platformers and endless runners where you can repeatedly jump ad nauseum with no penalty. It pulls an unfair trick or making you plan ahead whilst also keeping a finger on the pulse for quick maneuvering. To it’s credit, it’s what makes Razed fun. Now, that sounds contradictory as I was comparing it to a game that is the Khan to my Kirk, but it is that kind of challenging gameplay we all need to kick us back into attention once in a while.
As you progress, so will your skill set. Slides for taking tight corners, wall running and dashes will become available as you curse your way through 60 bright, vibrant, dynamically changing levels of varying difficulty. Upbeat techno loops never cease, as an encouragement to never stop running (well that, and the shoes explode if you do). Graphically, it’s got that recent trend of “minimal is more” style of blocky, polygonal design seen in Grow Up/Home, Mugsters et all. Like Temple Run, put through the mode7 of the SNES, recreated in the Unreal engine. Framerate never dropped once, so I never experienced any slow down or input lag as a result.
At time of writing, I’m only on the 15th level. Broken up into zones of ten, I’m essentially halfway through the second world (or zone). Story, in as much as I can gain from taking one boss out, is that you’re stopping the destruction of your land from prospectors. Which, to be fair, they seem to be doing a good job of, as each level seems to be either collapsing or moving large parts of machinery and/or landscape around as you hot-foot it between them.
As alluded to earlier, this game has a steep start that may seem off putting to some, and the musical loops can start to make you question if you’re in purgatory as you restart a level for the umpteenth time. Those of short temperament may be searching for open windows to arc their controllers out of. It’s not by any means a “casual” game. What you may think will be a quick blast on a level or two, can either be quicker through rage quitting, or longer as you get sucked into try, try, trying again.
That, dear reader, is down to you. Personally, I’m enjoying the challenge. If you like a quick paced platformer, the constant desire to improve your times and check out how well you’re doing against others, then this is definitely worth a look. An ever-changing, multi-level quest, with the challenge and variety of the Trials games, with expanding and upgradeable skills to shave seconds off of best efforts, this is a solid recommendation. It also holds the record for “Most Imaginative Shoe-based Puns” per loading screen. Off the top of my head, I’ve seen Dark Soles, Shoetiful Joe, Sockwork Knight, Shenshoe, and there are many, many more. Some are great, some create that little pity laugh, but I’ll be damned if Warpfish weren’t creative with the back catalogue of titles they punned into the ground. It also works as a calming distraction between levels, so kudos to them.
Taking both the tricky gameplay and playful tone in its stride, Razed stands out with its fresh take on the platform runner, and will keep you playing for a long enough to smash the targets and hit the S ranks on each level.
Just…please seek help if you struggle with one-more-go syndrome, as it can lead to uncontrollable verbal outbursts and an overwhelming desire to break controllers.
Razed is available now on Xbox One (reviewed on base Xbox One) and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.