Rider – Frustration and Winning

Jul 8, 2017

Rider is the most uncomfortable mix of frustration and an intense desire to win that has ever existed in video gaming history.

In Rider, you control a tiny Tron-like car that is controlled by simply pressing down on the screen. Holding down makes the car accelerate, but it also makes it start flipping like a mad man if the car isn’t on the ground. The goal is to navigate around all of the neon green platforms throughout the map until you reach the finish line.

Sounds simple enough, but the difference between having all wheels on the ground and being ever so slightly in the air is apparently not important enough to consider, according to Rider. Thus, if your wheel so much as thinks about being above ground by the merest millimeter, your car will suddenly flip itself 400 times and you will swiftly lose.

This frustration is compounded by the fact that the platforms you need to work your way across are frequently separated by vast valleys of instant death. Frequently, the car will need to be maneuvered only just slightly, accelerated only briefly, otherwise you will miss the landing and die, requiring you to restart all over again.

This continuous combination of massive jumps, frequent pits of death and a desire to suddenly experience 400g of turbulence when you accidentally touch the screen means that you will spend a very, very long time on the first few levels of Rider. You’ll be forced to because you simply cannot win.

Alongside the frequent deaths, you’ll be spending a good amount of your time staring at the black screen as the level resets; after a certain point, you’ll realize you might just be spending more time looking at the black screen after dying than you do actually playing Rider.

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However, Rider is a dangerous, evil kind of game. It is filled with these immense frustrations, these perplexing design choices that leave you riddled with anger. But… you keep playing. And, dammit, it’s fun.

But… you keep playing. And, dammit, it’s fun.

Despite these continuous irritations, Rider manages to keep you captivated; it’s just so infuriating, you need to beat it to show it who’s boss.

The level design is absolutely gorgeous, filled with fluorescent platforms that move and shift as you pass them, opening up additional paths to further progress through the level. Though this does mean that it’s impossible to complete a level the first time due to the shifting landscape (unless you’re some kind of wizard) the altering game state makes the entire experience one of discovery. Even as you drive the level changes and forces you to reconsider what you’re doing.

Each level gets progressively more frustrating and, thus, you become progressively more determined to win no matter the cost.

Each level gets progressively more frustrating and, thus, you become progressively more determined to win no matter the cost.

Rider manages to tap into that deep subconscious part of the human brain that demands to be undefeated. “This game will not defeat me!” says your primitive monkey brain.

But, oh, it already has. Rider has defeated us all.

Rider is available on Android and iPhone.

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Sam Eskenazi

Sam is a YouTuber, Streamer & Games Journalist. He loves to cook and listen to the sound of his own voice, ideally at the same time.

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