Desert Child

Be­come a bounty-hunt­ing hov­er­bike racer

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - Andy Kelly

As a fu­ture Earth slowly be­comes un­in­hab­it­able, hu­man­ity be­gins re­lo­cat­ing to Mars for a bet­ter life. The prob­lem is, only the stink­ing rich can af­ford a ticket. And you? You’re just a reg­u­lar kid with a beat-up hov­er­bike and enough dol­lars for a bowl of ra­men and not much else.

But what you have plenty of is de­ter­mi­na­tion, and you’ve de­cided to use your hov­er­bike, and knack for driv­ing, to earn enough money to make it to the Red Planet. You’ll hunt boun­ties, de­liver piz­zas and take part in rac­ing tour­na­ments, all to a won­der­fully chill, lo-fi hip-hop sound­track. De­vel­oper Os­car Brit­tain cites Akira and Cow­boy Be­bop as in­flu­ences, and that’s clear to see in the stylish, colour­ful, fast-paced vi­su­als.

What­ever you’re do­ing in De­sertChild, whether it’s sling­ing pizza or en­gag­ing in deadly races with other hov­er­bikes, it takes the form of a side-scrolling shooter. The con­trols are pleas­antly re­spon­sive, and the weapons all pack a grat­i­fy­ing punch: from the Ex-Wife, a QuakeII- style rail­gun, to the Dirty Barry, a fu­tur­is­tic take on a .44 mag­num. The chaotic com­bat is rem­i­nis­cent of Vlam­beer shoot­ers such as Nu­cle­arThrone, which com­bines beau­ti­fully with the high-speed rac­ing.

You move across a semi-3D plane with the ana­logue stick (a con­troller is rec­om­mended) and can boost side­ways and for­wards by tap­ping A. The pace is break­neck and the amount of noise on the screen is a bit over­whelm­ing at first, but as you adapt to its unique flow it be­comes in­tox­i­cat­ing. It’s not as in­tense as a bul­let hell-style shooter, but it does re­quire sim­i­lar lev­els of fo­cus as your screen ex­plodes with light and colour.

Be­tween ac­tiv­i­ties you can wan­der around a desert town, which fea­tures some lovely ro­to­scoped an­i­ma­tion. Here you can pawn stuff for cash to re­pair your bike and fill up on ra­men.

Fresh Gear

You’ll also be able to cus­tomise your hov­er­bike with “guns, am­pli­fiers, and taste­less bumper stick­ers” and “dine on a range of in­ter­plan­e­tary cui­sine with sweet buffs to help you win”. Brit­tain also says the game has been de­signed with re­playa­bil­ity in mind, promis­ing “se­crets that will keep you com­ing back”. My early demo was pretty ba­sic, but even so, as a proof of con­cept it has me pretty ex­cited.

De­sertChild is an in­cred­i­bly cool game, mar­ry­ing some supremely sat­is­fy­ing shoot­ing and driv­ing with vivid art, an in­trigu­ing sto­ry­line and a bril­liant sound­track. I’m in­ter­ested to see where this hov­er­bike racer’s ad­ven­ture takes him, and I like the idea of the game cul­mi­nat­ing with “the big­gest race in the uni­verse” when he fi­nally scrapes enough money to­gether to reach Mars.

De­vel­oper Os­car Brit­tain cites Akira and Cow­boy Be­bop as in­flu­ences

Your hov­er­bike is your life.

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