There probably isn’t a single game released in the last ten years that wasn’t in some way inspired by another. These inspirations can be as subtle as a similar story beat or a gameplay curve or can be as blatant as an entire remake of a game’s mechanics the way the author wishes they worked in the original.
There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from past work, and in fact it is a vital part of the creative process. When I play a new game, I always challenge myself to try and find the inspiration behind whatever I’m playing, and if I can I like to make notice of the similarities and differences. It’s a fun little mini-game that always gets me more invested in whatever I’m playing.
In Scrap Riders, I was able to point out two very clear inspirations; Full Throttle and Streets of Rage. The game’s inspirations definitely lean more on the Full Throttle side, with the core of the gameplay, story beats and artistic direction inspired by the 1995 adventure game.
In Scrap Riders, you play as Rast, a young and spunky ruffian in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You’re accompanied by a robot sidekick with a severe potty mouth, adding Futurama to the list of inspirations for this game. Any good story relies on the protagonist and sidekick for the storytelling, and Scrap Riders makes extensive use of the two for the game’s entire runtime.
You’re part of the Scrap Riders, a group of smugglers who have already made a name for themselves in the wasteland. When a high-value item the Scrap Riders aim to sell gets stolen by a rival gang, it’s up to you to unite an alliance of gangs to get it back. Most of the game is spent following this story, and will see you inch your way from the desert outskirts to the center of a Blade-Runneresque city as you progress.
The story is pretty easy to follow, with several main and side quests available to you as you progress. This story is told through two types of gameplay, a point-and-click style adventure game and sidescrolling beat-em-up segments. The Majority of the game is spent in the former, with the beat-em-up segments taking up a surprisingly short amount of the game.
For a game with zero voice acting that relies solely on text boxes to communicate dialogue and story to you, there is a frustrating lack of space allocated to the words on the screen. Each text box is too small, meaning most sentences don’t fit in a single blurb and have to be continued in the next popup. This leads you to think the sentence is over, press continue, and realize that there was one or two words left out, forcing you to take a second to recontextualize the whole sentence. While this might sound nitpicky, around the 20th time I had to deal with this I started to realize how truly frustrating it was.
In the spirit of nitpicking, however, I have to point out the translation errors. The Spanish development team did their best to translate the game for an English-speaking audience, but it’s not without its flaws. Misspellings and grammar errors plague a good amount of the game, and you’ll often see word combinations that a native speaker simply would not use.
Something the game does exceptionally well is the art and sound design. The music in the game is something I was especially impressed by; The game features many pixelated beats, with a sound that felt like a cross between an old arcade machine’s soundtrack and a synthwave playlist. What I was really surprised by was the variety of the score, and how often it changed as you entered new locations.
The art and level design in Scrap Riders is amazing, using large pixels and bright colors to create surprisingly diverse and colorful environments for an apocalyptic wasteland. The backgrounds are fun to look at, and the various enemy designs are really cool. The game has a very unique visual style that I think really compliments the setting and feel of the game.
Get used to those backgrounds, though, as you’ll be seeing them a lot. The game features a fair amount of fetch quests and absolutely no fast travel. This means you’ll be spending a lot of time walking to and from areas, seeing those same backgrounds over and over again. I’m not a fan of fetch quests, and I found this part of the game to be tiring pretty quickly.
The game is really obsessed with referencing other media, too. Be it Escape From New York, Futurama, Mass Effect or Blade Runner, the game is absolutely packed full of references and easter eggs, to the point where almost every line of dialogue has some kind of reference to pop culture in it. This really washes away the game’s own identity and makes the whole thing feel more like a parody than a unique entity of its own. This is a huge shame, given how much went into the game’s art direction.
The Final Word
Scrap Riders is an interesting game, with fantastic visuals and sound design and a unique take on the beat-em-up genre. However it isn’t without its flaws, and the lack of confidence in its own identity really weighs down the experience. Hopefully Games For Tutti learns from the experience, because I would definitely like to see an improved sequel.
Our Scrap Riders review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!