There’s a lot to like about Desert Child, the new game from Oscar Brittain. The graphics hearken back to 90s DOS games, bringing about waves of nostalgia for anyone who grew up playing those and the soundtrack is incredible. It’s just a shame that the game itself can’t live up to the aesthetic design choices.
Putting you in the shoes of a young, unnamed protagonist on a post apocalyptic earth you have one goal; escape earth to Mars by making money competing in one on one hover bike races. Once you’ve managed this goal the game opens up slightly, offering more ways to make money and shifting the story to focus on winning a Grand Prix on the red planet.
I Want To Ride My (Hover)Bicycle
The game is split between two distinct segments. The first finds you competing in one on one hover bike races against AI opponents. These take place on 2D planes and the key to winning is managing your boost and ammo count for whichever weapon load out was picked at the start of the game. Which instead of being used to destroy opponent racers is used to shoot floating TV screens on each track. Destroying these adds to your boost meter which allows you to easily fly past your opponent and win the race.
Winning or losing provides monetary rewards. These are the main focus of the game. Your goal in each chapter is to make enough money to move to the next. Winning nets a big chunk, while losing will only rake in smaller amounts. While saving for whichever goal you are working towards you have to be mindful of other things, such as repairing your bike and feeding your player character to make sure they’re at top performance for the next race.
The races themselves are fun and fast. There are a few varying tracks, which seem to be picked at random each time you enter a new one. They’re played from a side perspective, which can be a little off putting at first, but doesn’t take long to adjust to. The controls are tight but floaty enough to make you feel like you’re really moving a hovering vehicle around.
Aside from this you’ll move your avatar around streets, shopping for food and bike repairs. You can also once you get into the game take odd jobs to earn extra cash. These all base themselves around the bike racing game play, and while it is still fun it would have been nice to have the opportunity to mix it up a little.
The problem is, that’s all there is to it. The plot is paper thin, you’ll struggle to find a reason to keep slogging through the same game play loop again and again with little to no reason. The aesthetic side of things is brilliant, but it’s let down by the actual game.
- Great soundtrack
- Bike races are fast and fun
- Not enough game play variation
- Story is non existent