A sentient motorcycle named I.R.I.S. escapes her manufacturing facility after being struck by lightning, and has also inadvertently brought along a mechanic by the name of Pablo who gets stuck to her and is dragged mercilessly down the road. Can this crazy and absurd notion translate into a full-fledged game? If anyone could do it, the creative minds at Twisted Pixel would be the top candidates to make it work. Given their track record, and being that the game is an Xbox One launch title, there are some high expectations
Besides being able to speak and think for herself, I.R.I.S has a few moves in her arsenal that up the crazy even more. She comes equipped with an upgradeable set of machine guns, along with an arsenal of melee moves where she uses her wheels or Pablo to beat up on those who get in her way. She's also able to utilize Pablo in some unique and hilarious ways, such as throwing him like a boomerang only to have him return to being stuck dragging behind I.R.I.S.
Why would I.R.I.S. torture her passenger like this? Well it seems the lightning strike fried her circuits a bit, and although she is fluent in a variety of languages, her translation module has broken. Pablo doesn't speak a lick of English and he pleads for her to let him go. I.R.I.S., however, keeps misunderstanding Pablo and thinks he's willingly along for the ride. They're banter back in forth is the source of some humorous one-liners. After awhile though, the shtick behind this premise can start to grow a bit tiring. This doesn't devalue any of the moments that happened previously, just that the game won't have you in stitches the whole way through unfortunately.
A good part of the story is told through a series of live-action sequences that are meant to be cheesy as it sounds. This is somewhat of an ongoing gag from Twisted Pixel, having previously featured this to a point in The Gunstringer
and especially in the Wavy Tube Man Chronicles DLC.
Lococycle features a lot of these live action moments, and while it there are some great moments sprinkled in, other parts feel like they go on for way too long. These live action sequences are absolutely not meant to be taken seriously, but that doesn't mean they don't drag on every once in awhile.
The gameplay is the of the on-rails variety, with abilities to shoot, melee, and turbo. There are several instances where things get mixed up enough to keep things interesting. One example is a mini-game sequence where Pablo has to repair I.R.I.S. before getting pummeled by an incoming vehicle. There's also variable boss fights, a top-down shooting sequence, quick-time events and more. These help break up the pace a bit, as the shooting and melee combat wouldn't be able to hold the game up by itself.
The melee combat can be fantastic and hilarious to watch, but executing it is pretty mindless. You pretty much just mash the 'X' and 'Y' buttons, while occasional hitting 'A' to counter an attack. The 'A' button is also mapped to switching enemies to lock on too, so there's not any punishment for adding that button to your mashing repertoire as well. There's a certain level of satisfaction in pulling off 1000+ hit combos by utilizing zany motorcycle moves though, so while easy to perform it's entertaining to watch while on-going or via community uploaded clips with Xbox One's new Upload Studio feature. The melee simply lacks any sort of challenge unfortunately.
Throughout the game, you have the ability to upgrade I.R.I.S. by earning HP. The higher you grade in a level the more HP you earn. While it's nice to get an A rating, ultimately you'll have enough HP by the end of the game to fully upgrade I.R.I.S. to her fullest. Also, there's no need to stress about what to upgrade first, as it barely seems to make much of a difference in completing the story. You may find benefits to the upgraded guns and turbo functions when cleaning up some achievements though.
The graphics in the game are not what you expect from a next-gen game. With that being said, the game runs at a very smooth 60 frames per second, and the visuals are charming to say the least, despite being dated. Kind of a disappointment coming from an Xbox One launch title, but if you're playing a Twisted Pixel game for the graphics you're doing it wrong anyways.
An aspect that might get overlooked about Lococycle
is the game's fantastic audio. The voice acting is top-notch, which you will most likely pick up on, but it's the game's score that really shines. The orchestra performed music has an amazing ability to up the intensity level a lot. For a game premise that's completely off-the-wall, the professional sound goes together with it quite well
does a good job of mixing things up, it becomes evident that there's just enough material to fill up about five hours of gameplay, but no more. During these five hours you will have pulled off some insane melee combos and had a few laughs along the way, but you realize that it should come to an end. Thankfully, the final levels are polished and show off some of Twisted Pixel's patented humor.
The achievements were obviously originally designed for XBLA, as there are only 20 of them, but holds 1,000 gamerscore. They're relatively easy to complete, and you'll have most of them just by playing the story, with a little clean up afterwards. Nothing about them were particular challenging, only the fact that the descriptions were a bit ambiguous before being unlocked. With sites like ours though, the word spread really quick on how to unlock these and has become very easy to complete this game. There's only one of the new challenge achievements, and it's really
bizarre. Can't really tell if Twisted Pixel was being lazy with the single challenge, or if they're some sort of inside joke here, but it simply involves hitting a button in a menu. Lococyle
is a decent action game, but falls short of being a diamond in the rough among the Xbox One lineup. Twisted Pixel hasn't failed us with this game, but they've certainly done better. The developer is already working on their next title, and we can't wait to see what comes from them next. As it stands, Lococycle
may be best suited for fans of their other work, but others may fail to see the appeal of this game. I think Lococycle's legacy will be that of its easy achievements over anything else. The premise, as wacky as it sounds, had a lot of potential but the game only turned out to be so-so. At the original launch price, I don't think I would have recommended it, but the new price point does help tip the scales the other way.