Razed Review By Kevin Tavore, 05 Oct 2018 CommentsRazed is bright. It’s colorful. It’s excited to be exactly what it is — a pseudo runner, time trial and platforming hybrid that challenges you to complete courses quickly and with precision. These genres are all common nowadays, so indie developers often try to go against the grain with new ideas injected into the formulas with varying degrees of success. Usually, it doesn’t work. Perhaps that’s why Razed has taken a different route. You’ll not find any groundbreaking new ideas here, but you’ll also not find any depressing new ideas either. What you’ll find is a competent platformer with great presentation and enough challenge to keep dedicated players sticking around for more. Sometimes that’s all you need.The core gameplay is simple enough. You hold right trigger to run and you press A to jump. Simple enough, and the first few levels make it seem just that. You’ll run a course that lasts 10-30 seconds and then move along to the next one. As the game builds, it incorporates new abilities to continue pushing you farther. The abilities, such as a dash or a stomp, feel seamless as you weave them together to overcome each obstacle in front of you. To ensure you’re always thinking of speed, there’s an energy meter that will rapidly decrease if you’re not running and collecting energy crystals. These elements combine to create a cohesive experience that works quite well.Level design takes advantage of each of these abilities. Each level is made to teach you something new about how the game works or to challenge you to perfect the skills you’ve learned. The teaching levels are made well and you’ll quickly catch on to how you’re meant to progress through a level with your new abilities in tow. Likewise, it can be fun to practice and perfect your skills in more challenging levels as you tackle each obstacle one by one until it all finally clicks and you get a great run.The gameplay is fun, but it’s also tough. In fact, I’d call this game very challenging. It’s not that any particular level is impossible, but on many occasions they’re going to require what feels like perfection. The difficulty curve is not a smooth slope upwards, but instead more like a staircase with occasional ladders to climb. It’s hard but the next level is always reachable with a bit of effort. This will be music to the ears of hardcore genre fans, but more casual players like myself might appreciate just a bit more leniency.The difficulty is heightened even further if you don’t take advantage of the hidden upgrades in each level. Each ability uses energy, and every three upgrades will reduce the amount of energy used by a given ability. My first run through, I missed a bit over half of the upgrades entirely. The levels are linear and you’ll often be focused on getting to the end quickly, so it’s not always easy to look around and find them. If you do look, on a second run through perhaps, you’ll usually be able to spot the upgrade — then it’s just a matter of finding the new route you’re meant to take, hoping it doesn’t require an ability you don’t have yet, and then perfecting the new route. I didn’t like this as I wanted to continue progressing, not go back and spend an hour finding collectibles. The design is clearly there to extend the game and to make sure people have a reason to return to levels and that’s important, but I couldn’t get behind the execution here as it simply wasn’t fun to feel compelled to go back. I guess I prefer the carrot over the stick.The levels are full of colors and are generally exciting to be in. This is no graphical marvel, but no one should expect it to be and what’s here works well within the game. Many games get tripped up over splashy visuals and end up hindering the gameplay because they’re distracted. With Razed, the fun colors were chosen to ensure you could easily read what’s ahead of you and prepare. That’s important in a game all about speed and perfection.The achievements will be tough because the game itself is tough. You’ll need to S rank everything, which is going to require perfection as well as all of the upgrades. Luckily, there’s an achievement to get all those upgrades too so that’s two birds with one stone. Otherwise, there’s not too much going on with the list — you’ll find it very simple to understand.SummaryRazed is fun and flashy. It’s a platformer focused on speed and precision and it’s backed up with fair level design and good mechanics. In its dash towards the finish line, it hits every step almost perfectly. Unfortunately, the couple misses hold it back from top marks. It’s got an uneven difficulty curve that will undoubtedly turn away some casual players. It’s also got an almost required backtracking element to find hidden upgrades and that’s not fun when all you want to do is break records and keep moving through the levels. Razed is nevertheless a joy to play on many occasions and that’s often enough to make it worth playing.3.5 / 5Positives Nice visual design Levels are fun and interesting Game mechanics work well together Negatives Backtracking required to get upgrades Difficulty can be uneven EthicsThe reviewer spent five hours racing through over 30 levels, trying to set new records. 15 of the game's 42 achievements were unlocked along the way. The game was played on an Xbox One X. An Xbox One copy was provided through the ID@Xbox program for this review.ReviewXbox One Written by Kevin TavoreKevin is a lover of all types of media, especially any type of long form story. The American equivalent of Aristotle, he'll write about anything and everything and you'll usually see him as the purveyor of news, reviews and the occasional op-ed. He's happy with any game that's not point and click or puzzling, but would always rather be outdoors in nature.