I've noticed that over the past few years, any video game that is difficult is dubbed "the Dark Souls of *insert genre here*". I don't think that's fair to many games. I'm one of the rare few that doesn't actually much care for the series, though I won't say that I can't see the appeal. The main reason I don't much care for the Dark Souls series isn't that I don't like losing, but that I'd like the reasons I lose to be clear and I like the game to not rub it in my face that I'm an uncoordinated gibbon with ten thumbs.
I love Cuphead and the Rayman games, and they aren't exactly known for just handing you the final boss. This brings me to Razed, a fun and nigh-impossible racing game that kept me glued to my seat, teeth gritted in determination with each fast-paced failed attempt. The gameplay is fast and fun, the graphics and music have a fun retro aesthetic, and what little story there is has a great sense of humor. If you have the money, I think this game is a great tough game for those who don't want to spend an hour with the wiki page and a personal trainer just to get ready for the tutorial.
Razed is available on Steam for $11.99.
The Developer is tired of the world he has created, so he has decided to wipe it and start from scratch. Unfortunately, this world is populated. In an act of pity, aside from destroying you outright, the Developer forcibly gifts you a pair of…unique running shoes that need to remain charged or else they will explode. The way he sees it, this is getting you out of the way without needing to just kill you right then and there. However, in doing so, he committed the first thing on the list of things a villain should never do: let the protagonist live. Now you need to use these powerful shoes to stop the Developer and save your world!
There isn't a ton of complexity in this story, but there is a ton of personality in the game. You are a pretty stock silent protagonist, but I enjoyed the massive amount of personality the game manages to fit inside the other characters' few short voice lines. The Developer is constantly exasperated at his own creations and just wants a clean slate. Your left show, Lefty, is helpful and optimistic, while your Righty wants nothing more than to explode and take you with him. The personalities aren't exactly unique, they're archetypes if anything, but with how little they are showcased I am impressed that it managed to fit in the personality it could.
This is a timed platformer racing game with fairly basic controls that work equally well with a controller or with a keyboard, it's all your choice, either work. They are easy to use and are very responsive so every time you die there is nothing to blame but yourself, buddy. The game is centered around running. Your shoes keep charging as long as you run, and if you stop running or use an ability like running or drifting you lose charge. If your shoes run out of charge, you explode.
Is jumping an upgrade?
Razed takes the original Rayman approach to upgrades in that it gives you a new upgrade at every stage, but some of them could have been basic features. Most of the upgrades are fine, but for some reason, jumping is the very first upgrade you get. That isn't an upgrade, that's a basic feature necessary for a platforming game. The only game I've played with platforming but no jump command was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the original PlayStation and do me a favor and remind me how that one went over?
You can also find upgrades for your abilities in the levels, some of which are inaccessible or unusable until later when you get more abilities. I really enjoy this aspect of the game because it gives it more replayability. The upgrades aren't necessary to succeed, but they certainly help.
Can I please have a curve on this grade?
Each level is unique and difficult and you just need to know that you will die. You will die a lot. I played this game for hours and I still haven't completely beaten it because the platforming is so precise a level that only takes at the most thirty seconds to beat wound up taking me a half hour after I had figured out all of the nuances. I never found myself getting frustrated with the constant failures though because all of the losses just flowed flawlessly into the next attempt. The game didn't rub my lack of coordination in my face like a certain game I won't name *cough* Dark Souls *cough*. It just threw me right back in the fray to start over again, which is the kind of hard game I love.
Even after all of the falling off edges, burning, impaling, and exploding, as soon as you finish the level you wind up being graded and I never managed to get more than a "B", and that was sometimes for just missing a fraction of a second. Still, that never wound up being a source of huge aggravation, if anything it just makes me want to go back and play it again to shave off those precious milliseconds.
Graphics and audio
The graphics remind me a lot of those on the original PlayStation in a good way. The graphics are polygons but they are used well, with the game using simple yet appealing character models with solid neon colors as opposed to a complete horrific design like we could sometimes get in those glory days. Sorry, everyone, those graphics may have worked at the time but they have not aged well. Each level also has a different look – the third world looks like the last bits of a castle level, while the second feels like what used to be an industrial level. It all works to a cyberscience fiction sort of aesthetic that really works well in tandem with the music to make a Tron like experience where you feel like you are running around a computer world that is rapidly heading for the recycle bin.
This game is hard, but at no point in time while I was playing it did I feel so frustrated I wanted to break my monitor with my keyboard. The game is difficult, but between the controls, the aesthetic, the wide varied levels, and the personality, this is one of the rare difficult games that I can play for a long period of time without getting too irritated. I may not have been able to finish all of the levels, but by god am I going to keep trying after I've finished writing this article. This is one of the few difficult games I actually feel safe recommending to even a casual gamer. I wouldn't call it a necessary addition to a library, but if you've got the twelve bucks and need a good challenge I can recommend you lock on those shoes, don't listen to righty and give Razed a shot.
|+ Fast paced gameplay||– Weak overarching narrative|
|+ Decent replayability||– Some upgrades are standard features|
|+ Good use of retro polygons|