With its fun, quirky cartoon-y visuals, you’d assume that Coffin Dodgers, a game by Milkytea would be a good time. Its mobile device inspired racing mixed with its lifeless cast of characters unfortunately comes up short and offers nothing new to world of cart racing.
Set in Sunny Pines, a retirement community, your soul is wanted by the Grim Reaper. The townsfolk gather around and decide that the best course of action, to hold off death, is to challenge the Grim Reaper to a race. For some reason he accepts the challenge and through a series of 13 races you will attempt to keep death in your rear view. You’ll race around town, a farm and through a purple hazed graveyard.
Your cast of characters are:
- Jerimiah: A retired Amish sheep farmer who secretly loves technology.
- ‘Iron Horse’ Hank Hudson: Who is one of the original Harley Riders.
- ‘Marvelous’ Martha Goldberg: A feisty politically incorrect social networking old woman.
- Wilbur ‘Softball’ Williams: An ashamed musician from Mississippi.
- Lucy ‘Legs’ Hernandez: A former centerfold model.
- Rudolf ‘The Red Horn’ Hoffman: A former Messerschmidt pilot.
- Professor Percival Chase III: Who is working on a 100% anti-ageing drug.
- Grim Reaper: You can unlock him to race as.
Sadly, the characters themselves are devoid of any personality, staring mostly into space with a blank look that never changes. The character designs are fairly generic, but having them have emotional expressions would have gone a long way.
You’ll modify your scooters to help you get an edge on the competition and that would be great if the game didn’t have unnecessarily fast opponents and rubber banding with its racers behind you. I’ve lapped a few racers in the first few tracks and then there is such a difficulty spike that unless you are redoing races to earn more coin, you’ll be left in the dust. Each race you win will earn you extra coin that you spend on upgrades.
Scooters can have the following upgraded should you pony up the coin: engine, gearbox, body, weapon, basket and paint shop. There are three tiers within each upgrade that will boost speed, traction and acceleration. Through my completion of the story mode I was able to purchase around 4 upgrades, mostly at the starting tier. The only problem with the upgrades is that if you go down in the final lap, it’s nearly impossible to catch up unless you luck out and get the boost power-up every time, which honestly, will never happen.
Power-up’s come in a few flavors: Boost, Oil Slick (because for some reason cart racing games must have this.), Rockets, Uzi (which is only good against the undead), a shield and a charge pad that shuts down other vehicles for a few seconds. You can also use a charged-up melee, swinging umbrella’s, canes and various items like guitars and sausage links. You can swing quickly for a less powerful strike should you not want the charged-up swing. It can be fairly difficult to hit them with a charged-up swing as the range on it is minimal.
As I mentioned that the Uzi is only good against the undead, that’s because there are zombies, everywhere. As you win and the other townsfolk lose their lives at the end of each race, they become zombies and then more zombies show up on the track, hit enough of them and you fall off your scooter.
The controls are fairly okay and can be a bit touchy. I felt I always needed to adjust my steering as no set direction worked. Most races are fairly easy to navigate with only a few courses having really sharp turns. You can set the game to auto accelerate if you don’t want to always press down the gas.
The final race pits you against death for one last challenge. What I really enjoyed about the final lap was that it was a greatest hits of all the other courses, making you take all that you’ve learned into that one final race. I wish more games had a final encounter that made you rely on what you’ve trained for.
There is a splitscreen and various other modes that allow you to just drive without an objective, but mostly it’s Story Mode, Quick Race, Time trial and a mode called Crazy Granddad which is only for splitscreen. If you are unable to finish a race in the place you want, you can quit and try again, as restart race never worked for me.
The visuals are extremely basic and remind me of nearly every mobile racing game that has some cartoon-y style to it. The audio has some okay moments, like the alien warble during the farm level, complete with alien ships beaming up sheep and firing some type of beam into the ground that you must dodge.
Coffin Dodgers is a tricky game to figure out what demographic it is for. While the PlayStation 4 doesn’t have many cart racing games, those that love this genre probably already have a WiiU for Mario Kart, a vastly superior experience. Coffin Dodgers, at just over 10 bucks, is an experience that is over and done with in about 2 hours as there just isn’t any replayability to it, unless you enjoy split screen battles against friends. It’s certainly not horrible as the game is very playable and has a bit of charm to it. You can upgrade your scooter to outpace death, but you just can’t outrun mediocrity.