“It’s a top down shooter,” they said, “I’ll be fun” they said. Well, I can honestly say that they have helped me add to my list of known expletives. I may have said before, many times, that I don’t do horror games. They’re fine in concept, I just don’t like spending a gaming session peering through a permanent squint while sitting in a little puddle of my own pee. To put it very simply, jump-scares can bite me harder than the army of zombies I’ve just been pitted against did. The game is Garage: Bad Trip, and although I (sort of) enjoyed playing the it, I’m still including a disclaimer: expect swearing. No, I’m not ashamed of myself and I don’t want to see any admonishing comments. With that being said, let’s get on with the review.
So this little piece of nightmare fuel is a top-down shooter, so I went into this expecting a gore ridden splatter-fest. Loaded and Reloaded are two of my favorite games of all time because they did the top-down gore-athon perfectly. Another game I thought this would be similar to when I signed up for this shit-show was Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen. That’s still top-down and still gory but without the jump scares and the waves of fucking zombies. Do you have any remote idea how hard it is to aim and flinch at the same time? No? It’s hard, and harder still when there’s something chewing on your leg and lots of its friends are wanting to join it.
In Garage: Bad Trip you wake up in the boot of a car. This may or may not be your car, but you wouldn’t know either way because you’ve lost your memory. To make you want to get back in the boot and pretend none of this ever happened, you’re also surrounded by flesh hungry zombies. These, incidentally aren’t the thick-as-a-bag-of-spanners zombies you see in series such as The Walking Dead, rather these are the crap-your-pants-frenzied-murder-monkeys you find in good zombie movies.
If it’s bigger than you it’s probably going to kill. Important to be on your toes.
Literally nothing I’ve encountered in this game feels like a good idea. Let’s me share a small example. If you know you are surrounded by zombies, it’s probably not the wisest idea to take hallucinogenic substances. Does this stop you? Course not! I mean, what could possibly be worse than dead, flesh eating psychopaths? How about giant rats because you’ve decided to go tunneling in the walls. If this ridiculously ill advised trip wasn’t enough it isn’t just effecting your character’s movement. The screen goes all lovely and ripply with lots of pretty purple lines and … did I mention rats? Really really big fuckin’ rats? Just … no!
This whole game feels uncomfortable to the point where you’re not sure you want to keep going. Unfortunately, like watching a train wreck, it’s very difficult to pull your eyes away. For some obscure reason you actually want to know what horrific creation will be attempting to end you next. So far I’ve been nibbled on, torched, blown-up and had to play tag with a giant vermin spewing mutant. Did I mention I’m only on chapter 6 of the game? I’m being introduced to puppies next. Rabid two headed ones. Lovely.
I’m not even going to start on the story. The narrative plays out in sections that you’ll pick up as you go. There’s plenty to find and read scattered about the place which helps build up a really macabre picture of what happened to the world around you. You will get further pieces of story given to you via cut scenes. Don’t assume this is an excuse to have a breather and try and get your heart pumping back in rhythm again. Even the bits in the middle are tense. It’s all tense and that in some ways is actually the beauty of the game.
I genuinely believe that there are different types of horror. You don’t have to have the knowledge that something is hunting you and you only have a lighter and the last flickers of your sanity for something to be scary. The simple fact that you don’t know what’s around the corner and that whatever it is won’t be pleasant can be enough. In Garage: Bad Trip the whole game seems to be centered around this feeling. There are just enough areas where nothing happens to make you complacent and this complacency is what makes those scares all the more real.
You’ll need all the firepower you can get.
Looking at what I’ve just said in a bit more depth, this title is paced perfectly. If it was just all action a lot of the unease you feel would subside because you would be so full of adrenaline that literally nothing would scare you. This would make the game just another shooter. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say that it was plodding and slow enough to over-play the scares and put the game into the survival horror camp. The balance that Garage: Bad Trip achieves is just right and it’s something that I have to applaud.
The levels themselves, from what I’ve experienced thus far don’t seem to be particularly long. This doesn’t mean that you’ll breeze through the game though. Certain areas are hard. Take the rats for example. In that tunneling scene you face what can only be described as a mini-boss. I lost count of the number of times that bloody thing ate me before I managed to prevail. This is a mouse/keyboard driven game and when your already pumped full of adrenaline and your being chased about by something that can kill you in a bout three hits it can be a bit difficult to aim steadily. You don’t have a gun at this point either so you have to let a fire-axe do the work for you and it’s not fastest weapon to be swinging about.
The controls are actually fairly well thought out. This plays on the pace of the game again. I would usually be suggesting that a title of this sort really needs to have a controller. In this case I think you’d fall into a rhythm a bit too easily and the game would feel more comfortable. As I’ve mentioned this game isn’t comfortable so I don’t think it wise for the controls to be any different. The keyboard set up is easy to use but you still need accuracy and fast fingers and this suits the theme well because believe me any thought of accuracy goes down the toilet after about five minutes of play. The down side to this and really my only gripe is that things can get quite frenzied and I think some items, (ammo for instance,) should be picked up by running over them. Physically having to stop what you’re doing and actively pick things up in the middle of a battle feels a tad unfair.
Graphically this game has a really old school feel to it but that doesn’t do anything to spoil the atmosphere it creates. This is further proof to me that something doesn’t have to be flashy to have an effect. The cut-scenes are really well drawn out as well and all add to the over all theme of the game. I’d like to be able to tell you that the sound also added to the fright-fest but I didn’t hear a lot of it. I didn’t have a problem with the music I just turned it off because it was freaking me out and along with everything else it was all giving me hives.
And this is exactly why drugs are bad.
All in all, Garage: Bad Trip is a really good example of me not liking a genre entirely for my own reasons but still being able to see the value of a title. This isn’t something I’ll likely pick up and play again. I played enough to get a really good feel for you guys and gals but I’m not sure I’d genuinely be able to say I was having fun. Certainly not in the truest sense of the word. The game isn’t bad, it’s far from it, but I just don’t get a kick out of that sort of adrenaline. If the horror genre is your thing I highly recommend giving this one a chance. Just bare in mind that you might not find it anywhere as creepy as I did. We all have our own tolerance levels for things. Even with this being said it’s a really fun action game at the very least. If this is the sort of thing that floats your proverbial boat I thoroughly recommend you giving Garage: Bad Trip a try.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
One hell of a trip!
Look and feel - 7/10
Atmosphere - 9/10
Challenge - 8/10
Story - 7/10
This is certainly an adrenaline junkie's dream game. If you like a bit of a scare and want to mix this with something pacey and violent this could well be the game for you. If you're like me, however, and would much rather peel your eyeballs with a razor blade that play a horror game I think I might be inclined to look elsewhere. A brilliantly made and written game but certainly not for everyone.