Creepy Road represents Russian indie studio Groovy Milk’s first ever game. A name like that would indicate something offbeat and weird; a game unlike most others. Creepy Road definitely fits this bill, and after seeing a release on Steam last May, it has now finally found its way to the Xbox One. But is it any good?
Creepy Road puts you in the position of a trucker, appropriately named Flint Trucker, who embarks on a desperate mission to find his way home and rescue his girlfriend Angelina, after his truck is derailed by a party hat wearing bear. What follows is nothing short of blasting your way through a series of levels in the form of an old school sidescroller.
Fiendishly nasty enemies block Flint’s path, and you’re given a variety of different tools to deal with the threats. The starting weapon is a pistol, but you’ll almost never use this as it’s so weak. More powerful weapons include a shotgun, a fist you can throw at enemies, an assault rifle, rocket launchers and flamethrowers. Each weapon only has a certain amount of ammo, meaning there’s a layer of strategy involved in when and where to use weapons. However, weapon placements are fairly generous so it’s not often you’ll be back down to using the starting pistol.
Checkpoints are fairly placed, providing enough challenge while also never making things too straightforward. Also positioned throughout the levels are hamburgers, which restore a portion of your health, often providing much needed life to make it through to the next checkpoint. Enemy types vary quite significantly and fit in with Creepy Road’s weird apocalypse circus blend. Examples include unicycle riding bears, shotgun wielding hillbillies and fire breathing pirates, amongst others.
One of Creepy Road’s best assets is the art style, and the weird B-movie horror vibe. The colours are vibrant and pop off the screen, and the cutscenes are structured in a really unique way, much like a comic book. The artistic choices from Groovy Milk are distinctive, and work well with the game’s goofy and irreverent tone. The enemies are grotesque and strange looking, but also creative in their own right, and they enhance the strength of Groovy Milk’s clear creative vision. They feel like the result of a strange science experiment gone horribly wrong, but they also look quite silly, nailing the surreal vibe that the studio is clearly going for. The story itself is pretty thin, and seems to exist only to provide a framework within which you can kill endless hordes of enemies.
The gameplay entirely consists of moving from left to right (and sometimes up), killing everything in your path, so you’d hope the movement and shooting mechanics are rock solid. Unfortunately they’re not. Movement can be stilted and glitchy, and there have been occasions where after jumping, my character wouldn’t move properly for a couple of seconds. Another frustrating issue is the inconsistent, and sometimes downright poor, hit detection. In many instances, I was sure I had hit an enemy, but the bullet almost appeared to pass right through them without dealing any damage, leading me to getting hit. On a few occasions, this led directly to my death. It’s maddening that these mechanics are so glitchy, because your enjoyment of Creepy Road on Xbox One will largely hinge on this.
Breaking up the standard action moments are a series of bizarre boss battles against various super sized monsters. These are well positioned and break up the pacing effectively, especially as the action can start to get repetitive after a while. However, I did suffer with the same hit detection problems that plague the rest of the game with one boss especially. I was sure my hits should have been registering but they weren’t. Maybe I’m just bad at the game, but either way, there’s a frustrating lack of consistency here.
Also breaking things up is a cool little flying section where you’re given control of a rocket you can fly on; this works well enough, but I almost wanted a little more than what the game gives you. These different sections help add some variety to proceedings, but you’ll just wish they were a bit longer.
The achievements are disappointingly generic, with little in the way of variety. They’re largely centred around how many enemies you can kill, and, strangely, how many times you die; if you’re in the mood to pick up some easy Gamerscore, be prepared to die. A lot. There are a few other miscellaneous tasks here and there, but these will largely be picked up through general gameplay.
Creepy Road is a game filled to the brim with promise. It presents a cool, stylish world with a really vibrant art style, but is ultimately let down by glitchy game mechanics. While this is a real shame, it’s an interesting first step for Groovy Milk, and I’m fascinated to see what they do next. If they can take their good natured tone and add some polish, I can see them producing a real hit in the future.