Here at TPReview we like to think we differ from mainstream review sites because we factor in the cost of a game when we’re making our reviews. That being said, at £9.59 Coffin Dodgers feel to us like an absolute rip off. If it was free to play and contained no micro-transactions, we’d even be saying it simply isn’t worth your time. This is an attempt to copy other generic games that falls at every hurdle and should be completely avoided by everyone.
The developers have attempted to create a kart racer with a healthy dose of dark humour. Each character (except one) is an elderly person riding their mobility scooters through villages, towns, farms, and oh-so-hilariously – a graveyard. Get it? Because they’re old so they’re nearly dead? Brilliant.
The characters are devoid of any kind of actual ‘character’ and instead fall into vague stereotypes about old people. The final character (that you must complete the story mode to unlock) is Death. Normally I’d consider that a spoiler, but since Death is in literally every race in single player (the roster is too small to hide anyone) and a constant voice throughout the game (spouting nonsense after each race that rarely correlates to what you actually did in the race) it’s hardly a surprise.
You spend your time racing around simple tracks and battling for first place. The only vaguely innovative feature is a melee attack that must be charged to knock other racers off their scooters in a single hit. Of course because there’s no downside to charging it, you simply drive around with it charged at all times, hitting people as soon as they get close. This eliminates any tension in the race and replaces it with frustration, skill isn’t necessary, you can just drive straight into someone at a corner and knock them off in one hit, whoever is in front has no defence so will always lose.
This theme is continued with the nonsenical powerups. There’s been no attempt to theme the powerups to the game, instead it looks more like they came as some kind of stock assets attached to the engine. You have rockets (that can only fire forwards, lock on instantly and are homing), a machine gun, a weird hi-tech shield, a boost, and some oil slicks. The only powerup that has any connection to the theme is the defibulators that for some reason sends out a shockwave around you. Just like in Mario Kart being up front for a whole race is no guarantee of victory, if you get hit by something (which you can’t defend against by trailing things behind) that’s it, you’ll just get overtaken by everyone and have to start again if you want to progress. In the story the last racer after each set is ‘killed’ and they show up as dead. Except that they don’t because they’re still in every race because of the aforementioned tiny roster. All it means is that you need to win most of your races to get through the story. Don’t think you can go back later to improve a result, you can either start the whole thing again or just carry on, retrying races to perfect them might actually have been fun.
In terms of gameplay the racing is simply atrocious. The scooters have a tiny turning circle and there’s no drifting or boost mechanic, so you just drive around as if on rails around the bland and featureless courses. Occasionally there’s a shortcut that invariable cuts out a chicane, but that’s about as interesting as the tracks get. Ok so there’s zombies now and then, or other traffic, or trains, but they only serve as obstacles and don’t lead to any kind of interesting gameplay mechanics. You hit them and you either go through them or you get stuck awkwardly or bounce back far too far. The lamposts in this game feel like a particularly poorly designed object. Clipping within a foot or so of them will send you bouncing back the same speed as which you hit them, then you’ll stop suddenly. Other edges have similarly bad hitboxes and the physics are unpredictable in the worst way.
Graphically this feels like it could have quite easily been a mobile game. Objects are big and featureless, characters are undetailed, weapon effects are incredibly basic, and there’s zero sense of speed throughout. It’s not even got a kind of simple but endearing style, it just appears lazy and uninspired, like a rush job at a gamejam.
The only real selling point for this is that it has local multiplayer, and like any game some fun can be had if you’ve got four people racing. Unfortunately that fun is at the expense of the game and how terrible it is. Whatever your interest in kart racers is, you’d be much better served by getting Sonic All Stars Racing, or of course Mario Kart 8 if you have a Wii U. This simply isn’t in the same league as those classics and really doesn’t deserve to be played by anybody.