There’s a trend on the App Store at the moment for simple, reasonably elegant arcade experiences. It harks back to the older days of mobile gaming, when a lack of processing power and screens size meant games were almost an afterthought. Albeit a delicious afterthought.
Faily Rider very much fits into that bracket. It’s a brief blast of silly fun with some reasonably engaging compulsion loops that don’t exactly throttle you with their urgency but tickle you to stay a little longer than maybe you should do. It’s fun, pure and simple, and doesn’t really try to be anything else. If you like your mobile games throwaway and with a wickedly slapstick sense of humor then it’s worth checking out. If you prefer a mobile game with some depth, it’s one to be avoided.
The game is very similar in shape to Faily Brakes, except this time you’re in control of a bike instead of a car. A grumpy goat forces you off the road and it’s up to you to weave through a bunch of random obstacles and get as far as you can.
All of your runs are going to end in crashes, and they’re usually pretty spectacular. You’ll get thrown in the air, twisting and crumpling as you go, then smash into something solid and land in a dazed heap a good stretch away from where you messed up. But really, it’s all part of the fun. This is a silly experience through and through, and you can film and capture your multiple deaths to share them with your friends. Because nothing cements a friendship like images of digital carnage.
The controls are simple enough. You’ve got two buttons – tap left to steer left and tap right to steer right. They work well, so long as you bear in mind that they’re supposed to be a little on the slippy-slidey side. You are, after all, careening down a hill on a bike designed for the tarmac. Interestingly there are a couple of camera angles as well. The over-the-shoulder one is the default, but I found it easier switching to first person. It gets a bit stomach churning when you go over one of the game’s big ramps and pull off a trick, but the controls feel a little more responsive and the collision detection a little kinder.
Inevitably there are coins to collect. You can spend these on new bikes or new outfits, and they’re the main reason you’ll push on through multiple runs. There are videos you can watch to get more coins and other power-ups, but often these didn’t work, which made it feel like I was wasting 30 seconds of my life for no reason at all.
There’s no super spark here, and nothing that’s going to cement Faily Rider a place on your homescreen once the initial rush of tragic crashes and hair-raising close shaves has dulled. But that’s hardly the end of the world. This is a game designed for a generation of gamers with short attention spans, who bounce from shiny thing to shiny thing without ever really settling on anything. And it’s going to be perfect for them.
Faily Rider is a big slobbering chunk of dumb mobile fun. It careens around for a while, crashes into a few things, and then you wander away slightly dizzy but not really any the worse for wear.