May 19, 2019 at 2:43 PM #1066
Rating: 2.5 – Playable
These retirees should have stayed retired…
Hey, welcome to my review for Coffin Dodgers! This is a game with a fairly unforgettable (and definitely unique) name and premise. This game is literally about a group of senior citizens at a retirement home making a deal with death himself in order to avoid the great beyond. That deal apparently involves who can win in a go-kart race, which means these grandma’s and grandpa’s are literally racing for their lives. I can’t make this stuff up. However, as we all know, just because a game has a good premise that doesn’t mean it’s actually any fun to play, so let’s look at this game a little more in-depth!
So normally I’d do a paragraph here to cover the story in a game, but honestly I just covered it all in that intro paragraph. The premise of the game is really the story in its entirety: you are racing for you life against the Grim Reaper. I will add that there are several "circuits" as you play through the game, and after each one the old person in last place (or perhaps the last two places) will be killed. This is shown with graveyard cut-scenes between circuits which show who died. The funny thing is that the same amount of racers never changes: the old people come back as zombie drivers to continue competing. The ending of the game also changes a bit based on whether or not Death wins, but needless to say the "Story" in this game hits its pinnacle with its quirky premise and doesn’t offer much more than that.
The actual game play in Coffin Dodgers can easily be compared to the very popular "Mario Kart" games. You’ll pick one of the old folks to play as and race around a stage, often doing 3-4 laps before the race ends. These stages include two major things you’ll recognize from Mario Kart: speed-boost stripes and item boxes.
Yes indeed, Coffin Dodgers is a battle racer. The items you can get are random, but range from weapons like missiles and sub-machine guns to a protective barrier, oil slicks, and some electric paddles that do an area attack around you. These items can of course make or break a fight and are fairly fun to use but again, they borrow a lot from Mario Kart and frankly Mario Kart just does this better (as well as having better-designed tracks). After each race you get rewarded for how well you do and are given coins. You can use these coins in the garage to upgrade your cart, spending them on things like a better engine, chassis, or gear drive. These upgrades stay unlocked even after the game’s end, and transfer to every character, so eventually you’ll have the best cart available if you keep playing.
All in all, the game play in Coffin Dodgers is thoroughly average. It’s not a BAD Kart racer in any form, but it’s doing nothing new and what it does do is something you’ve seen performed better (many times over) with the Mario Kart franchise. Coffin Dodgers is also significantly shorter than the vast majority of racing titles, only featuring about 4 different "circuits" with about 3 tracks each. No unlockable tracks, ONE unlockable racer (even though ALL racers are the same, game play wise), a basic upgrade system that carries over to each racer… there’s just nothing here that ever exceeds "average"at any point in time.
The graphics in the game are also thoroughly average. That may be a bit kind, actually… below average is closer to the truth. The racers in general are well designed, but rather low resolution with somewhat blocky graphics. For example, the "Grim Reaper" character has just a black void when you look in his hood, but the hood is just… blocky, with the black color there being just a plane of darkness. This looks like something you may have seen in the late PS1 or early PS2 era. Personally, I think the developers should have went a bit-more cartoonish with the graphics in order to overcome their technical limitations, but it is what it is. It’s an indie-project, and that really shows when it comes to the graphics.
As you may imagine, there’s no voice acting in this title. Just sound effects from the cart, the racers, and the tracks in general, which are fairly solid if not a little bit goofy. The game’s soundtrack is very limited. In fact, they may not have more than 2-3 songs in total, as every race seems to use the same song: a very upbeat tune that honestly is a little catchy, with various instruments that you wouldn’t expect. Solid, but let’s be honest, after you’ve heard if for the 12th race in a row the song will have worn out its welcome.
As I mentioned above, the game itself is rather short. There’s 12-13 levels in total (13, I believe, as you do have a final stage against death) so for a full play-through of this title you’re looking at 35-45 minutes. More if you insist on re-playing levels until you get first on every level, but this is certainly not a long game. There’s also a "roaming" mode where you can just drive around a village, although there’s nothing to do here but a game where you race around to collect objects.
Perhaps the most puzzling (and WORST THING) the game does is the lack of an online mode. It is literally inconcievable to me how, in 2017, we can have a kart-racing battle game and NOT include an online mode. I have read that the PC version of the game does have this mode, but apparently PS4 players aren’t worthy. This one fact alone is enough for me to tell people this game is definitely worth skipping, to be quite honest, and makes me question why the developers even bothered bringing this title to the PS4. In fairness, there IS a split-screen mode, so you can have some local couch fun if you wish, which is admittedly nice to see in this day and age where couch co-op seems to be slowly dying.
In the end, with no online play, a very short campaign, and game play that is average at best, Coffin Dodgers is decidedly a game you can safely skip out on. The best part of this title is the admittedly unique premise, and while the kart-racing is solid enough, it is just done so much better elsewhere that this title just isn’t worth your time. Hopefully this review has helped you out (or even saved you some money!). Have fun and keep playing!
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