Creepy Road is a beautifully gory game, with a clear identity. It knows exactly what it wants to be, and makes no bones about it. That being said, despite the creative vision of rookie development team Groovy Milk, the game misses the mark. Several poorly implemented mechanics hold Creepy Road back. Despite these flaws though, the game features gorgeously grotesque graphics, a catchy original soundtrack, and an arsenal of weapons for you to combat an onslaught of enemies with.
One sign of a truly great game is a sense of force and simulated impact behind the weapons. Using a shotgun should feel like you’re really hurting enemies. Bullet spread has to make sense, etc. It’s the small details that really make a game feel polished and put it over the top. In the case of Creepy Road, firing your weapons feels inconsistent. Sometimes shotgun blasts will pierce and hit multiple enemies leaving a wake of destruction in its path, and sometimes it feels like you’re firing a marshmallow gun. The addition of a recoil animation would have helped this greatly. Another quality of life issue that is sorely missed, is the ability to control the height of your jump. Levels are designed with an inconsistent y-axis, meaning enemies attack you at varying heights. The ability to control the height of your jump would make the gameplay feel much smoother, allowing you to be more precise with your jump shots. Along with the inability to control your jump height, the game also only allows you to fire your weapons left, right, and up. The addition of omnidirectional aim would pair perfectly with better control of your jump, making fights feel more kinetic and fluid, rather than stagnant and weightless.
Creepy Road has a harsh difficulty spike. The first level is a breeze. Enemies come at you in small numbers, there are no environmental hazards, and all you need is your handy dandy revolver. Then the second level punches you in the balls. All of a sudden you’re fighting cows with minigun udders, birds fly overhead and drop stink-bomb swordfishes on you, and hillbillies are throwing Molotov cocktails at you. Almost immediately, any sense of confidence or control you have will be tossed out the window, leaving you running frantically, trying to jump around enemies avoiding attacks, while working in a few of your own. It’s this difficulty spike that highlights the weakness of the combat and movement mechanics.
In contrast to the sub-par combat mechanics, the audio, visual, and monster design of Creepy Road are all top-notch. Vibrant levels are filled to the brim with quirky, yet terrifying enemies. Murderous cows, angry swine-monsters, and worst of all, country-bumpkins with shotguns will relentlessly chase you down and try to murder you. All while being treated to a fantastic original soundtrack. Each level has its own theme, unique enemy types, and background music. If the combat design was as fleshed out as these aspects, Creepy Road would be an excellent game.
Creepy Road has the beginnings of what could have been a fantastic side-scrolling shooter. Groovy Milk games has experienced graphic designers, and their talent shows. But gameplay will always be more important than graphics. And while the combat isn’t unplayable, it absolutely feels clunkier than it should have. The addition of height control on your jump, and omnidirectional aiming would have created a much smoother combat experience, and heavily decreased the frustration factor of the game. Recently games have been equating frustration to challenge, and while the two are not mutually exclusive, the difficulty shouldn’t feel artificial, and deaths should feel like they’re your fault, not the games. Creepy Road isn’t a terrible game by any means. Despite the clunky controls, it does have its upsides. A few tweaks and Cuphead would have had some major competition in the side-scrolling shooter market.
The Graphics: Groovy Milk is comprised of veteran graphic designers that have worked for some of the biggest companies in the world, and their talent shows. Creepy Road features some brutal, and brilliant visuals.
The Music: An excellent original soundtrack accompanies you on your massacre of all things unfortunate enough to find themselves standing in your way.
Clunky Gameplay: The age-old adage of “gameplay over graphics” rings true to this day, but in the case of Creepy Road, the gameplay is in need of some serious quality of life changes.
The Difficulty Spike: A balanced difficulty curve makes a game feel rewarding. A sharp difficulty spike makes players break controllers.
At the end of the day, Creepy Road is another game that never realized it’s full potential due to some poor choices for the gameplay. Hopefully Groovy Milk takes this into consideration for their sophomore outing, and Creepy Road 2 will be the bullet hell side-scrolling shooter that we’ve been wanting since Cuphead.