I still don't believe he bought a physical copy of it, Hax Monster reviews Ride to Hell Retribution known at the worst game ever!

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , ,

Writing game reviews is always partly a matter of fact and partly a matter of opinion. One can surely argue a game’s quality based on subjective matters, like atmosphere and story. Sometimes, however, you can rely on objective matters to defend your point of view, which mostly has to do with the game’s functionality or originality. The latter is very much preferable, because you can make a way more certain case. I find myself in that comfortable position right now, reviewing Ride to Hell Retribution, also known as the worst game ever.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Know the face of the beast.

The quality of this game has reached such a low point that the amazement is less about how the developers could make such horrible mistakes and more about how no one apparently raised the question if perhaps this abomination should be cancelled to save developer Eutechnyx’s dignity. After all, it does not take a trained eye to discover the gullibility in the first minute of gameplay. 

Considering that this game is so bad that a standard reviewing structure won’t be very practical here, I decided the best way to review Ride to Hell was to first list the few things that the game did not do poorly, as well as the possibilities that the game had as a concept, after which I’ll list the most prominent failures. I can unfortunately not mention all of them, because my review’s reading time would outlast the game’s miserable runtime.

 This could of a way of exploring the desire for freedom but what we got was every horrible element from the life.

Firstly, the game had some good potential in the conceptual stages of development. Since there are not so many games set in the 1960’s and since a biker game could be cool it makes sense that the devs wanted to make something like that. Prior to release there was talk of Ride to Hell being an open world sandbox where you could explore the American motorways in a true biker-gang style. That would be awesome, for sure. Ride to Hell is no sandbox and offers no freedom, but if it had been that many would have appreciated it. It would have had an original setting and time period, as well as gameplay that would fit the setting well. 
And even though some will certainly disagree with me, there are a few things that the game does do well. Most of them are hard to spot because failures pile up on them like leaves during autumn, but in those little pieces you can see the shine of the diamond that was the concept. Most prominently, the game offers nice variation. The hub-based mission gameplay switches between biker-driving sections, sometimes intermixed with combat, melee combat sections and cover-based shooting. In between all of that you can spend time in the microscopic hub town where you can buy upgrades and modify your motorbike. 

 No Saints Row 3 but I see the possibilities.

Bike modification is the third bit the game did well. There are plenty of options and styles for your wheels and everything fits nicely into place. The final upside are the bright graphics, which make the world look colourful and pleasant. The graphics are by no means good, but the colour scheme gives everything a pleasant feel.

Now that we are done with the four only points that are in the slightest bit positive, let me give you an impression of the vastness of this abominable failure. 
Firstly, the game is hideously broken. Glitches are everywhere and often quite hilarious. On one occasion, I head shot an enemy which caused him to fly into the distance like an emptying balloon. Another enemy suddenly had his bottom half several meters away from his top half, while the two were still connected by a narrow little stretch of body. An animation that was meant to demonstrate a newly unlocked melee combo to me bugged after which my character, which was supposed to execute the combo, was standing inside the target of said combo. Ragdolls get stuck in either props or in the world geometry all the time. 

On another occasion, the unintuitive level design caused me to lose my way. Then a message came up saying that ‘all enemies in the area are dead’, meaning that I have no reason to loiter. For whatever reason that text never went away that mission. And some other time I switched from my dynamite sticks to my assault rifle, after which the dynamite model did not go away and got stuck in my rifle. 

Finally, the most important cutscene in the first half of the game has only half the sound effects it should have, and what should have been an exciting moment loses something if you hear nothing save the ambient noise of the environment. These are by far not all bugs, but hopefully this gives you some impression of how many there are. The weird thing is that this game is not broken in the same way as, say, Big Rigs over the Road Racing was, because you can play all the way through this without problems. Game breaking glitches are the only kind that Ride to Hell does not have. 
The next issue the game has is misogyny. To complete the stereotypical biker image seen In this game there has to be plenty of sex, the developers thought, so consequently you have sex with more than half of the members of the opposite sex you meet. Often such encounters take place when you find a lady, dressed in the most oversexed way possible, sexually harassed by a few men. Then you shoot all of them in the head after which you are rewarded with a rather unsettling show of the protagonist, Jake, rubbing his crotch against said lady while both are still fully clothed. 

Just look at their faces, it looks like both of them regret doing this.

Most of the times this take place less than half a meter away from the corpses of those harassing men you shot in the head a few seconds earlier. What makes it even weirder is that there are only four female models for about ten encounters, so it almost seems as if we come across the same women two or three times for whatever reason. None of this adds anything at all and solely exists to satisfy the three-year-old that came up with this stupid idea.

I mentioned that it was a good thing that occasionally there are some biking sections. It is nice that the game has them, but in all other respects they are a massive nuisance. Often these sequences mean you have to chase someone and in order to make sure you can always catch up with someone, your speed is always higher than that of your target. However, the game does not want you to get to him before the end of the sequence, so when you get too close the hand of god pushes your goal away from you with noticeable force. That kind of puppet-master interference should not be visible at all. 

 Why did this guy seeming explode into more blood than he can possible have?

What is most striking with the biking is how you die in them. You can fail them by crashing into things, but unlike a sensible game that would make the player die on impact, Ride to Hell takes a different approach. You can fail up to three times and every time you hit something, even if it is just a scrape, the game waits just long enough for you to think you can resume your drive and then fades the screen out. You are then restarted a hundred meters back. When this happens the third time you would think that you would just die and fail, right? Wrong. When you fail the last time, the game waits a few seconds again, then restarts you. Now however, you have no control over your character and the game pushes your bike into the ditch. You explode. You die. End. So rather than making you fail on its own, the game restarts you and makes you die again, as if to rub it in one more time, and the delay of a few seconds between hitting something is very annoying, because now the pace or the race is not only broken by your own crash, but also by the respawning which happens just when you have gotten back up to speed. And when you die, the game does not restart but brings you to the pause menu where every option except loading the save again is blocked. That is not particularly streamlined design,

The fact that Ride to Hell was released on PC almost seems like a mistake, considering that the ‘video’ tab in the options menu only lets you toggle subtitles and fullscreen and lets you adjust the brightness. Also, you are only allowed to select preset control setups, rather than being able to adjust everything freely. That is especially frustrating considering that standard controls are unintuitive and irritating to use. Most control options only relate to controllers anyway, considering that you can adjust sensitivity but not, say, whether you want to hold the mouse to aim or if you want to toggle aim with it. It is evident that, apart from the fullscreen option, the entire thing was just hauled over from the console port without adjustment. However, I don’t think graphical options would have added anything, because the game looks horrible anyway. Textures only load after one second of gameplay, the textures have a very low resolution and there are next to no effects. The only effects are blood, and that is overdone to the point that punching someone’s shoulder looks like you had a jam jar taped to your knuckles when you hit him.

If the earlier example wasn't enough for you.

Then there is the voice acting, which comes across as either completely disinterested or extremely overdone. Some enemies that are supposed to say angry or intimidating things while fighting you sound more like they express their annoyance over having spilled their coffee, while others groan out their lines like they are simultaneously passing a kidney stone. 
Then there is the melee combat. Although it is nice variation, the entire system is completely broken because the attack that is meant to just break the enemy’s block is the only one you need. That kicking attack breaks the enemy’s block, stops any attack they are executing and does damage as well. You can probably already tell that doing the can-can on anyone for a few seconds kills anyone without issue. You would be right, and you would probably not work at Eutechnyx. I played through an entire chapter, which is only melee combat, with just this attack and when the QTE’s came up I just rubbed over my keyboard randomly, as the game does not fail a quick-time-event if you press the wrong button. Beyond this there are unlockable combo’s, but their explanation was bugged up so I had not the faintest clue how to use them. Also there is a counter move which is about as overpowered as the kick attack, so the entire melee half of the game just ends up as a coffee break in between the driving and shooting.

 Obviously this guy hasn't discovered the wonder of kicks yet.
And shooting is a challenge indeed. Any sense of balance in this respect of the combat has been thrown out the window and was then run over by a truck carrying leaking barrels of nuclear waste. You have the choice, like in most games, to take out enemies with multiple body shots or one headshot. What is new here is that you would need fifteen shots to the chest, which mostly are three magazines, to kill anyone. Consequently I only killed two people that way, and that was just to count how much it would take. The frustration of headshotting is that whenever you make a headshot, or blow up an explodable barrel, the game goes into slow-motion bullet time for about a quarter of a second. I will admit that it was satisfying when I once managed to chain together a few headshots using this slow-motion period but the hundreds of other times it was just annoying. Usually the time window is way to short to be helpful, especially with explosions.
And there is more. Everyone has hair that looks like mashed paper and which often collides with their head or shoulders. The soundtrack consists of extremely repetitive tracks with always the same kind of horrible wailing for vocals. The reload animation for the gun turret looks like I’m waving my hand at some enemy as if I think I might know him. Every time a loading screen is complete the game waits for you to press the enter key, which always delays the load a few seconds because of that the message that the load is over is a bit hard to notice. 
So, Ride to Hell is bad. No surprise there, considering that it is already two years old by now. What is nice about it is that this game is the fun kind of bad. It is not like Big Rigs, which is bad because it outright does not work, but it is fun because of that it makes every bad decision it ever could make. I spent the first few hours of this game laughing at everything new I found and I don’t believe I ever laughed more. This is the kind of bad you just need to see, and unlike a game such as Goat Simulator this was not meant to be horrible and because of that Retribution takes itself seriously it just gets better and better. 

Steam took this title down, unfortunately, but if you can get it I would recommend that you try it. This might be a bad game, but if they changed the official genre from ‘action-adventure’ to ‘comedy’ it would have been a game of the year contender for sure.


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