I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed speedrunning games. I mean, let’s face it, some speedrunners this gen have been absolutely shocking, but that’s not to say that we’ve not had the occasional cracker. Razed is the latest game to join the trend, and for more than a handful of reasons, it’s not half bad. The game throws you into the role of a prisoner that’s been trapped by the Developer, a developer that wishes to destroy you and the world in an attempt to rebuild it in his image. Yes, very meta, but it works well in the game’s favor.
Due to your outcry, the developer decides to gift you with a new pair of running shoes. Not just any running shoes, these shoes can talk to you. There’s Lefty, who serves as the calm and collected shoe, one that will explain things to you as you proceed, and then there’s Righty, the polar opposite to Lefty. Righty wants nothing more than for you to explode and die, which is exactly what will happen if you stop running; the shoes will explode. It’s an interesting concept, that’s for sure, but does Razed stand as a pinnacle game for the genre?
Not so much. You see, whilst the game is indeed a lot of fun to play, the difficulty spike that hits you not too long after the initial learning curve, is enough to test even the most patient of players. That may not sound like enough of a reason to hold back an otherwise exceptional speedrunner, but believe me, its difficulty gets very unforgivable. Razed throws you into the game, explains that if you stop running you’ll die, and then leaves you to the rest. It doesn’t take too long to get into the swing of things and understand its functions.
This, in part, is thanks to the game’s simple tutorial and easy first few levels. Though, nevertheless, once you’re done with that, there’s no time for sightseeing and hanging around. The aim of the game is to stay on the move and to maintain momentum. There’s a non-intrusive meter that will inform you as to how slow or fast you’re going, but as alluded to above, if you let this meter deplete, Ka-Boom. The game offers a total of sixty levels, with additional upgrades to chase after, chucked in for good measure. Simple stuff, really.
These upgrades can be achieved through picking up (oftentimes) well-hidden upgrade points, and to obtain an upgrade, you’ll need to collect three points a piece. These upgrades do certainly come in handy, for instance, if you get the jump upgrade, you’ll spend less energy making a jump. Each of your abilities cost energy to use, which makes for a slightly tactical approach as to how levels are played out. The balance in regards to the upgrade system is on point here, and the pacing of the overall experience is equally as such.
The game is split into different ten-level sections, with each section bringing a distinct and unique theme to spice up the fields of play. As expected, the tenth level in each section serves as a boss level. The Developer will always be who you’re up against, and this nefarious individual has a taste for interesting machines and gadgets, very Sonic-esque. I’ll admit, these boss encounters can be very testing, but that sense of satisfaction once you nail a mech-riddled, death-trap filled boss level, is quite an empowering “I did that” feeling.
I commend the level design in Razed, which constantly treats you to new, vibrant locations and heaps of challenging environments. It helps, of course, that the controls are tight and responsive, which is always an important pillar for any speedrunner. There’s a lot of trial and error involved within, that is, until you suss out the lay of the land. Once you’ve nuked a level, you’ll be ranked based on your time. This throws in a decent layer of replay value, more so for those of you that enjoy max completion. I warn you, though, S-ranks are tough.
Razed, as aforementioned, is a vibrant game that’s packed with colors and design variety. I especially appreciated how it continuously introduced new and interesting platforms and mechanics, ensuring that any sense of repetition is kept at bay. This is all tied to a decent soundtrack that sets the mood of the adventure, remarkably well. It’s a shame that the difficulty harshly rises (roughly around) the level ten mark, but even so, fans of speedrunners will be thrilled with what’s on offer here. I, for one, certainly have been.
This may indeed be somewhat of a cliché, but this game is the definition of easy to pick up, yet very hard to master. Despite its unforgiving steep difficulty curve, Razed is a fun, vibrant, and engaging speedrunner. The pace of the game is sensational, and its constant introduction of new and interesting mechanics ensures that repetition is kept at bay, throughout.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.