If ever there were a game that squandered its potential and had beauty that was skin deep, it’s Creepy Road. Groovy Milk’s run-and-gun 2D side-scroller is instantly captivating, for a fair range of reasons. Not only does it look amazing, but it handles fluidly and shows a lot of promise. Unfortunately, merely a few levels in, the cracks begin to surface. I found myself sitting back as the credits rolled, wondering why this otherwise stunning experience wasn’t built upon correctly. It’s a shame really, because Creepy Road could have been freakin’ epic.
There’s a daft story present, slapped together to hold its daft character in place. The world has gone insane, and main man Flint Trucker embarks on a journey to save Angelina, his love interest. The problem is, between Flint and Angelina, rests legions of evil-doers and nefarious beasts. The only way through is with a keen shot and a heavy hand, so off you go. The first thing that struck me was the game’s beauty. Groovy Milk’s wonderful hand-drawn presentation literally instills the feeling that you’re playing a cartoon from start to finish.
The amount of care and attention to detail here is through the roof, in fact, I oftentimes became distracted due to its beauty alone. The visuals are sharp, the environments varied, and the overall aesthetic is simply breathtaking. I can extend some appreciation to the game’s audio design too, relaying cues that further establish a seemingly stellar foundation. It’s unfortunate, then, that this is all held back by a mixture of lazy ideas and overall shoddy execution. The game is very easy to pick up and play, making it fairly accessible as a result.
The crux of play sees you running through a handful of small, contained levels, blasting away at any enemy that comes at you from the left, from the right, and from above. You’ll be taking on all forms of enemies; rampant bunnies, angry bears, pissed-off clowns, and so forth. There’s very few boundaries as far as its outlandish concept is concerned. It goes without saying, then, that you would expect a nice variation of firepower to utilize against the hordes of grunts and bosses coming your way. Thankfully, Creepy Road excels here.
Whilst you’re not able to carry weaponry from one level to the next, each contained level does usually pack the game’s full list of weapons for you to make use of. Sometimes these will be sat in plain sight, and other times, you’ll need to look around and reach high-up areas to locate hidden goodies. Weapons include the likes of a standard pistol, shotguns, assault rifles, mini-guns, grenades, and even a fantastical gadget that turns your enemies into turds. Yes, turds! With the exception of the pistol, all of these weapons have limited ammunition.
You’re free to scroll through your weapons at will and on the fly, which comes in handy as far as ammo-management is concerned. You see, the enemies within the game all house their own attack and movement patterns. More often than not, there’s a particular weapon that’s best suited for a specific enemy. That being said, Creepy Road throws everything at you at once, meaning that you’re constantly going to find yourselves overrun at the drop of a hat. This design choice is hit and miss for the most part, but it does (just about) work okay.
New enemy types are regularly introduced throughout the game’s two hour run, with a small band of boss battles present to break up the pace. You’ll begin each level on the right, and must move leftwards until you hit the level’s end. There’s very little to do other than blast away at whatever is gunning for you. This is where the game’s issues come into view. Despite its fluid handling and its to-the-point gameplay, Creepy Road is chock-full of questionable design flaws. Hit detection and level layout being chief among them.
Several times did I witness my bullets passing through enemies, doing no damage whatsoever. This happens most when an enemy is uniquely positioned. Say for example, your enemy is on top of a car, jumping and shooting seems to do no good for the most part. You’ll need to climb up there too to ensure that you’re level with their hit-box. The way the game’s levels are designed makes this a regular occurrence, given that many of the static enemies are positioned on stairs, on top of structures, and in other out-of-reach places.
That being said, the game will occasionally stop you in your tracks and freeze screen movement. When it does this, hordes of foes will litter the screen. The game plays at its best during these segments, and there’s a lot of fun to be had as you lay waste to your plentiful opposition. The game’s boss battles, on the other hand, are far less interesting. I daresay that the boss battles are the game’s weakest elements. There’s just no innovation present whatsoever, with each and every encounter being completely devoid of excitement.
Hit detection is a problem here too, especially with the game’s second boss. Here, a large man will fly overhead and shoot beams at you. Once avoided, he’ll slam into the ground and then dish out another attack whilst he’s suspended in the air. During this fight, you only have two weapons available, both of which seem to miss the boss’ hit-box more often than not. The only way I could circumvent this was to stand underneath him (in a pit of fire) and shoot upwards. It took many attempts to overcome, and proved to be hella frustrating.
There’s also an issue with Flint’s jump, being that he has a tendency of getting stuck in platforms. Thankfully, this isn’t a dominant issue and only occurs infrequently, making it slightly easier to overlook. There’s one level that deviates from the game’s run-and-gun design. Here, you’re sat on top of a rocket and must make it from one end of the level to the other; killing enemies and avoiding environmental hazards throughout. Problems that are exclusive to this level include the likes of framerate spikes, and return-to-home crashes.
The developer needs to address this quickly. I found very little fun in needing to do the level over and over, simply because the inconsistent framerate sent me towards a laser beam, and as a result, to my doom. There’s also, for some reason, heaps of invisible barriers that prevent you from moving. I would be willing to overlook this problem if it didn’t constantly bottleneck me into danger, once again, forcing a level restart. It’s a shame that the game’s only unique level is so tedious and annoying to play.
As aforementioned, and despite a needless ranking system at the end of each level, there’s roughly two hours of fun to be had here. It’s a good job that it’s a short game, or else its repetitive nature would have become more of an issue. Though, as it stands, it’s a serviceable experience at best. It’s as though for every pro, there’s a con. If you’re a die-hard fan of the formula, you may be able to pull more from this than I could, but even then, you’ll wonder why the developer didn’t hold the game’s core functionality to a higher standard.
Creepy Road is a mixed bag of pros and cons. Whilst it looks and sounds the part, handles quite fluidly, and comes with a diverse variation of enemies and weaponry, there’s just too many glaring issues holding it back. Chief among them being lazily designed boss battles, poor hit detection, and several environmental bugs. It’s a shame really, because had the developer held the game’s quality to a higher standard, this could have been a hit.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.