Review – Garage: Bad Trip
Honestly, Garage: Bad Trip had me pretty worried when I started it up. It has all the makings of a pretty generic zombie shooter and it was painfully obvious from the beginning. You wake up after a disaster and start seeing strange things happen with dead bodies with one scene that is pretty reminiscent of the first Resident Evil. Luckily it starts finding its own groove and turns into a wacky gore-fest with some pretty cool ideas and humor not unlike what you’d find within a Grindhouse movie.
The story is basic enough and follows a pretty standard zombie apocalypse structure in which you need to try and escape a disaster zone you’re stuck in. You play as Butch, just a simple guy who was unfortunate enough to get caught in the middle of this living dead nightmare. Well, he starts out as a simple guy, but actually has a pretty solid story of why he was there which gets explained as the story and heads roll on. To give you the gist of the story; corporations hire a mad scientist to create super soldiers, things go wrong, contract cancelled, mad scientist goes rogue and keeps creating monstrosities. Pretty standard, yeah? Fortunately there are a few other twists not mentioned and to be honest, it’s all it needs to set up the craziness that follows.
The gameplay is a pretty typical top-down twin-stick shooter affair, but it handles itself well besides a couple annoyances. Unfortunately, “twin-stick”, just doesn’t feel as responsive while using a keyboard and mouse. Even though a mouse is great for accurate aiming, it somehow doesn’t work as well when you need to aim in a radius around the character. I can see how this might be a better experience on the Nintendo Switch. Another annoyance with the controls is the damn rats. What I mean by that is you’ll need to kick rats until you’re in a position where shooting them is fine because you have an abundance of ammo. But even if you’re slightly off to the side with your kick, you’ll miss. There were a couple frustrating deaths because I got surrounded by rats and kept missing kicks.
To my delight, the rest of the combat is really fun. When you’re taking out the zombies with a swift axe strike, offing their heads and watching them run around aimlessly like headless poultry, it is quite amusing. Shotgun’s, AR-15’s, grenades, Dirty Hairy revolvers all dismember and leave gory bits everywhere painting the levels with zombie blood. There are even a few sections that had me scratching my head, but in a good way. At one point you need to take some drugs that make you trip balls, another where they narrate a glorious chase scene (that you don’t get to play, but they assure you it was the best thing ever), and a few other things that had me chuckling.
Another nice touch that will sometimes add to suspense (but also add to surprise deaths) is that you can only see enemies that are within your characters site line. So even if you can see the path in front of you since it’s top-down, you won’t be able to see the enemies until you’re actually looking down said path. Also, I mentioned before that the game felt like a Grindhouse movie and I’d like to give you a bit of an insight as to what I mean. So I’m going to give a quick description of one of the enemies. Just imagine the crazy doctor from Human Centipede got a hold of around 15 Lickers from Resident Evil 2.
My main gripe about the gameplay and story is that there are some awkward pacing problems. A couple points in particular hit the pacing hard and it made it feel like they were just trying to pad the game time out a bit. It only took me around 5.5 hours to beat the game on normal, which isn’t very long. But without the filler and a couple cheap areas I could have finished it sooner. However, there is a challenge mode that will test your might that unlocks after you beat the game. For example, there is a challenge where you can only use an axe, properly named “Axe Man”.
I’m one of those people that really enjoys a well done pixel art game and for the most part, Garage: Bad Trip nails the look. Unfortunately, there are sections that just look muddy and too familiar to each other. Also they are using an overlay that makes it look like you’re watching it through a security camera the entire time and I didn’t enjoy that effect very much. The game itself is pixel art, but there are moments of some realism in the character profiles, for instance the zombie shown in my first picture.
The sound design is pretty good. I do wish the soundtrack had more punch to it, but there are a few sections where the music really does get going and I appreciated that. The guns all sound great, each packing a nice blast effect, but some environmental sounds are a little unnatural. The sound of the various gore effects are well done and so are some of the funnier moments like the psychedelic part in the above gif. All and all it’s well done, there just needed to be some more heavy hitting music moments.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much going into Garage: Bad Trip and the first couple chapters had me convinced I was in for another standard twin-stick zombie shooter. So I’m delighted to say that it is so much more. While it does retain some pretty standard zombie formulas, there is enough fun and wacky ideas here that land well enough to make it worth a playthrough. If you like twin-stick shooters and enjoy Grindhouse movies, I’m certain you’ll get a kick out of Garage: Bad Trip.
For the most part the pixel art is handled well, but there are some areas that look muddy and repetitive.
The twin-stick shooting is decent, but the movement can be a bit annoying, especially playing on a keyboard.
There are a couple of good tracks in the game, along with some solid gore and weapon effects.
Fun Factor: 8.0
Definitely some pacing issues, but there are unique ideas here. The bits of humor, gore and crazy monsters that remind me of a Grindhouse movie.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Reviewed on PC.
Garage: Bad Trip is available now on PC and Switch
A copy of Garage: Bad Trip was provided by the publisher.