Frodoric the Driver
Developer: Projects from Basement
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Genre(s): Racing, Arcade, Party
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Mobile)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 21/01/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Frodoric the Driver is a racing arcade game where you get to play as a dog on a mission to purchase cigarettes. It features neon colours, constant action, and a variety of weapons to help you accomplish your goal. Is the game a high score? Or will it leave you down a quarter? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Story Content Unavailable
Frodoric the Driver does not feature any story content. To even figure out the basic premise of the game, I needed to refer to the Nintendo eShop. Once I did learn what I was playing, I wished I had not read it. I played as a dog who ran out of cigarettes and was rushing to the tobacco store. Sure, it may be a novel concept, but I did not find it funny, especially considering it was never referenced throughout the title. However, despite the lacklustre story, if the gameplay is good, the game can score highly.
Unfortunately, Frodoric the Driver does not feature rewarding gameplay whatsoever. It is extremely simple. Earn points by bumping the backside of vehicles and travel as far as possible with limited health. The concept is simple and seems fun, but I quickly learned that was not the case. Compare this to a game like Spy Hunter which was released in 1983 or Smash Bandits Racing, a free mobile game, and Frodoric the Driver sticks out like a sore thumb. Both of those titles feature alternate sections to change the pace, intense action, and telegraph information perfectly to the player. Frodoric the Driver struggles to do all three of those things.
One major issue I had with the game was that there was nothing to fluctuate the pace of gameplay. Occasionally, minor hazards would occur such as snowstorms, fog, and the sun setting. While this seems like it would change the flow of gameplay, it barely does. It is easy to see in both fog and darkness. Plus, the decreased manoeuvrability suffered in snowstorms is barely noticeable. I was disappointed by the lack of substantial variety, as it left me in the same gameplay loop indefinitely.
Sure, they were not perfect, but the developers of Frodoric the Driver included some combat elements. The main gameplay loop incentivized me to damage surrounding cars by bumping the rear of their vehicle. Moreover, I was given a weapon. Depending on how strong my weapon was, I would either earn points for destroying cars or wreak havoc on the surrounding cars without earning many points. It was interesting to balance earning additional points with being more powerful. However, each weapon had long cooldowns, and none are exciting or make for riveting gameplay. To supplement boring weapons, there were uninspired powerups. I found barrels that made my car radioactive, allowing me to crash through the surrounding cars as well as Nitro barrels that granted me the same power but for a shorter period. There were others, but they were all equally as uninspired and never made the game more fun.
While the mundane gameplay loop and lack of innovative items are bad, the worst part of the game was the failure to telegraph various things to the player. The game explicitly states that I needed to attack the passing cars from their backside. However, there is no clear indication of where the front and back sides are divided. This made it difficult for me to know where to aim. Moreover, certain cars shoot missiles. These often look identical to the average car. The developer continually fails to telegraph important information. Powerup expirations are not shown to the player either. To add insult to injury, some vehicles cannot be attacked. Though the inability to damage those vehicles remains consistent, the vehicles do not have an obvious tell at first and the game never explains it, so I was confused as to why I died the first couple of times. The lack of telegraphs severely hindered my enjoyment.
Frodoric the Driver also features a unique element. There are animals on the road. My initial impression was to run them over, as Frodoric has always caused chaos wherever he goes. To my surprise, I was treated to a deduction of five thousand points. After I suffered the penalty, I learned to avoid the animals (which makes sense considering Frodoric is a dog). Even though this encouraged me to be careful, I did not enjoy this addition. My weapons could destroy these animals and this feature often penalized me for using the weapons. It made one of the key features of this game less reliable. It was an interesting decision to include items to avoid. However, I did not like their inclusion, especially because they impacted each run so heavily. For reference, five thousand points can equate to as many as one hundred cars bumped.
Though generally losing score would not be so bad, the only progression system in this game comes from collecting points. With the score you earn, you can unlock new cars. The vehicles are not overwhelmingly different, and I would often get a car that I did not purchase instead of the one I purchased. While it did not keep me immersed in the game for very long, it may engage some audiences. I thought the obnoxiously large number of points required to unlock each new vehicle was simply done to pad the amount of content in the game and did not enjoy the process of unlocking these cars. Though the cars themselves were alright, the implementation of this progression system did not further my passion for the game.
The gameplay in Frodoric the Driver was not engaging. It was difficult to understand, uninspired, and worst of all it was not fun. I am sure that some people could enjoy some elements of the gameplay, but there are certainly better options out there at the price point.
The visual design in Frodoric the Driver was one of the worst elements of the game. Certain assets looked like ClipArt images. Not only that, but the UI was unappealing, the cars did not look like they were moving, and the world was not dynamic or intriguing. I did find the neon colour choices to be appealing though, especially for a game of this style. The sound design was average. For the first couple of minutes, I enjoyed the soundtrack. However, as time passed, I found myself growing increasingly tired of it. Even though there were multiple for me to listen to, I did not find myself looking forward to the soundtrack whatsoever. On the other hand, the sound effects never impressed me. They sounded very general, and lacked personality. Even though the sound design had some lackluster elements, it adds to the overall package.
With both disappointing story and gameplay, there is little reason to recommend Frodoric the Driver. There are simply better games out there for cheaper. However, if you want to support a dog on its quest for nicotine, Frodoric the Driver is the game for you.
Rapid Reviews Rating
1.5 out of 5
You can purchase Frodoric the Driver on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.