Thursday, 12 May 2016 00:00

Coffin Dodgers Review

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Casual and hectic racing always brought a few hours of hilarious competition to groups.

Coffin Dodgers is a contender, having elders race against the grim reaper on their scooters. I think it's impossible not to bring up Mario Kart when taking a look, since it's a household name when it comes to cartoon racers with destructive power-ups. However, it isn't the best comparison here. Mario Kart has always stuck with consoles, and we're here to dive into the PC realm.

Controllers are always great to work with, and they're easy to install on your PC. That said, Coffin Dodgers will function completely fine on pure keyboard controls, and it's not always the time to bring out controllers. Being playable on laptops while out and about is a nice option. The question at that point is if it's on the same level of gratification as mobiles and handhelds. Since hectic racers shine best while played in groups, mobility certainly makes it easier to get into those groups in the first place.

What I notice is that there isn't much specialization, or innovation of existing racing mechanics: it doesn't put vehicles in intense physics simulations like Rocket League, there's no focus on combat or destruction like Obliteracers, Racing itself doesn't require much skill, and the variety of characters and customizations don't compare to the vehicle roster of GTR.

The story is good for a couple chuckles, but it boils down to a straightforward theme and nothing deeper. It's old people versus the hooded death. It explains why the roster is a group of elders, and why most of the racetracks are everyday environments. There's also a comical melee attack of smacking other drivers off scooters with canes. The tracks attempt to kill you once in a while, too. As death adequately puts it on one of the losing screens, "Welcome to die."

I audibly laughed one time during the story races, and that was when I found the SMG power-up. It genuinely surprised me when I was suddenly bestowed with the power to shoot my fellow elders. Granted, it didn't actually do much unless I was shooting an occasional stage hazard, but it was a memorable moment. Black humor is the core of everything, after all. The ragdoll effect from hitting a wall with too much speed, or being knocked off by rockets and canes, also earned some snickers.

The rest of the available power-ups were a bit forgettable.

Like the SMG, they often didn't have a big effect on the races. Rockets made people drop down a place or two when hit. Shields, boosters, and oil slicks did what you'd expect. Nothing gave the user a big advantage, or gave enemies a huge disadvantage. Rockets and canes were by far the most effective, since they set off the ragdoll animation, which took a couple seconds to resolve. The boosters didn't speed a person up much faster than normal. Oil slicks could slow a person down for half a second. If someone falls too far behind or pulls too far ahead, their place in the race was secured.

The overall racing experience was a bit strange. Although it's meant to be fun competition, there aren't any hidden mechanics to force racers closer together. There's no enforcement of chaos. Holding down the acceleration button and doing a moderate job at turning is enough to win nearly every race against the AI. Hitting props and stage hazards actually awards exp, and doesn't slow a person down much. Money collected after races allows for some vehicle upgrades, which are the biggest advantages, and generally speed the player up for easier and faster wins.

Graphically, I'd compare Coffin Dodgers with mobiles, or two generations back in terms of consoles. There's nothing for PCs to max out their hardware on. It'd fit right alongside some old school 3D games you'd start off from the browser. That doesn't stop players from experiencing the fun bits, and it's perfectly workable. It does its job of conveying what's going on behind the screen.

Being a jack of all trades in this genre makes it hard to be noticed. It's not a surprise that the online multiplayer is barren, with virtually no possibility of finding a sizable group of strangers. Getting friends interested in committing is difficult, as well. Having good keyboard controls and physical mobility fails to make up for how hard it is to gather folks. Though Coffin Dodgers requires a community to shine, it hasn't attracted a dedicated fanbase to stand on its own.


The Verdict

The primary issue is how everything is highly average. When asked to describe the merits between different driving games, there's nothing for a person to latch onto. There's no trait that makes it unique besides the cosmetic skin on the characters and environments. The system is tightly knit, so nothing in the programming holds things back. It's the lack of anything substantial to point a finger at that makes this game a solid 6 out of 10. No one's chased away, but nothing makes them stay for long.

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Paris Forge

I am Paris Forge, a child of the PC age. The net has been a part of my life since surfing on Netzero dial-up at the turn of the millennium. I've begun to rely on it a bit more than I probably should, but it's a wonderful world. Writing is a huge part of my work. I have authored several articles and stories, and enjoy writing in my spare time. PC gaming is among my favorite sources of entertainment, and I find immense value in learning from an interactive environment.