Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Developer: Milky Tea Studios
I’ve been following Coffin Dodgers for some time now, and what got me (and likely you) hooked was its silly premise. It’s an arcade style Kart racing game about geriatric elderly folks in a quiet retirement village that find themselves in a race against the Grim Reaper in order to escape death.
You take the streets in a suped-up motorized scooter, whose traits you can improve by earning money from races. The game is a boat load of fun when you first boot it up, but after the shine from its premise wears off, you will come to find some issues with its balance and design limitations.
Overall, Coffin Dodgers is a good game, it’s just a flawed one, but how you perceive it is entirely dependent on your expectations for it.
The main attraction you’re going to find here is the game’s Story Mode. You select a character with a unique look and funny little backstory, but the differences end there. Where as you would find the slow, heavy tankers or speedy, low defense racers in other Kart games, Coffin Dodgers doesn’t offer any tangible difference to the characters.
In lieu of that, you upgrade your Kart in between races by earning money through your winnings.
Game Balance needs some tweaking:
In theory, the Kart upgrades work just fine, but in practice I found that they worked as little more than game re-balancers. During my first run-through of the story mode, I would crash, either by the hands of frequent enemy melee attacks or cheap environmental obstacles that bounce you backwards about five feet, and it would be impossible to regain my place.
On the flip side, it would be super easy to lose my place in first, which alone isn’t a big deal. It’s just that if you can lose your place easily, you should be able to gain spots back in a manner that makes you feel like you can make a comeback even if you come up short.
You are going to find that your opponent’s Karts are much faster than you around the third set of races in the Story mode, and until you earn enough money to upgrade your speed, acceleration and handling, you won’t be able to eliminate that problem. On the flip side, when you max out those statistics, you will find yourself overpowered and it will be a cinch to win every race.
Level Design recycles a lot of the same assets:
Level design can also feel a bit limited, depending on your expectations. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Kart racers is seeing the different locations and learning the ins and outs of every level in order to get ready for live competition. Coffin Dodgers unfortunately recycles a lot of aspects of its levels in order to change things up, which can end up feeling like you are playing a slight variation of the same thing.
There is more of a sense of progression in the levels rather than feeling like you are racing on a completely different track. Again, the theory is sound, I just feel like the execution doesn’t work well within the realms of a Kart racer.
Game Modes are present, but a few are underdeveloped:
The game comes with a local multiplayer mode, which is nice for when you have some friends over. The PC version of the game (which released back in July 2015) also includes an online component, but I’ve found it impossible to get into any games either by timing out or simply that nobody joined the room. The console version seems to have gotten rid of the online mode, so I can’t help but wonder if the lack of interest from the PC crowd forced Milky Tea Studios to drop the mode all together.
There is also an Open World mode as well as something called Crazy Grandad but both feel like they are tacked on. There’s literally nothing to do but drive around in the Open World mode and Crazy Grandad just tasks you with finding a certain number of objects within a small amount of time. Frankly, you probably won’t play it more than a handful of times.
Achievements are easy to get in the console version of the game. In only a couple of hours I had 900 out of 1000 points on the Xbox One version, so it’s an easy boost for you achievement hunters out there.
All in all, Coffin Dodgers is a decent Kart Racer that leans on its premise to make itself stand out. It’s hard to imagine this game having a long term following, but it’s good for a quick laugh or two with friends. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a nice change of pace from a lot of games that demand an emotional investment.
There are some funky issues with collision detection and a couple of easy spots to get yourself stuck on, but for $12 ($11 on PC), it’s a nice option for PS4 and Xbox One owners looking for some casual Kart racing fun.