Another game on my list to complete this year is Desert Child, an indie racing game which sees you play as a penniless hoverbike rider trying to reach the upper echelons of the racing world and eventually make it from Earth all the way to Mars to compete in the Grand Prix.
I’ll hit on the most impressive part of Desert Child to start with – the soundtrack. It comes with an incredible original lo-fi hip-hop soundtrack that is just phenomenal to listen to, whether you’re roaming the streets of Mars, delivering pizza or winning the Grand Prix. I’m not actually someone that enjoys hip-hop, but in Desert Child it works so perfectly that it’s impossible not to sit and enjoy it. There’s even a game mode where you can just chill on your bike and listen to the music, and there’s an achievement to go with that too, if you stick in it for an hour. Which actually is quite easy to do once you’ve purchased all the songs available, as it’s a quality soundtrack.
Desert Child won’t claim to be the longest game in the world, but it does have a few different game modes to play. You’re still on your bike, but sometimes you’ll be lobbing pizza at people for a bit of extra money, other times you’ll be hacking into a bank by riding through cyberspace. Because that’s a thing. It’s all good fun though, and can make for a nice variation in jobs because just racing repeatedly can get a little dull. However if you do choose to do some of the less legal jobs, or partake in a bit of bike part theft, you will run into the police as your notoriety level will rise with each shady action you do. It’s much more lucrative to be a bit of a bad guy, but you can occasionally run into trouble, too.
For me, the retro pixel art style is top-notch. In terms of pure artistry, I don’t think you can better it in a video game. The race screens are a little uninspiring, but the worlds that you visit – particularly Mars – are incredible. I loved wandering around the city on Mars because every aspect is so well crafted and beautiful to look at. It has a lot of character and atmosphere to the world as well. You often see people wandering around, doing their own things in the world and it’s a place that could easily be transplanted into another game – and I certainly hope we see more of it in the future.
Desert Child’s gameplay isn’t very varied. That is my main trouble with the game. I love the soundtrack and it’s a good game to chill to, but actually playing it isn’t super interesting. There is basically one game type – ride a bike – and although there are minor variations on it, it’s pretty much the same ol’ stuff over and over. It’s not that it isn’t fun doing the drag races, but I can’t really ever stomach it for too long. I find myself getting quite bored after only a few races because while they are all slightly different, it’s very much the same. Shoot, boost, win. And then you’re back a few screens away from the race, so it’s a bit more of a pain to continue racing to build up some money.
The Final Word
Desert Child is not a bad game. It’s perfect to chill to and not take too seriously, but it is very short which may turn some players off. I do think that you get bang for your buck though, and you’ll definitely be wanting to buy the edition that includes the soundtrack. A bit more variety in what you can do would definitely be nice, but I think the additional game modes make up for the slightly lacking gameplay.