May whatever gods exist forever bless video games. Whereas having your vehicle’s brakes go out on you is one of real life’s most terrifying experiences, the event is a potential comedy riot in the digital world. Throw in some banjo music and you’ve got yourself a running comedy routine.
Faily Brakes from Spunge Games is one such game that makes us think about what a funny picture we’d cut if we sailed non-stop down a steep hill with a slack brake pedal. Again, kind of horrifying when you imagine yourself or a loved one in such a position, but did a great prophet not once say, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger, comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die?”
Wait, that was Mel Brooks. Eh, same diff.
So Spunge Games has a pretty solid premise with Faily Brakes. Even its name is an obvious and hilarious take on Crossy Road. Alas, unlike our road-crossing chicken, Faily Brakes’ controls are … well, they’re made of fail. And the frequent ads and slow restarts make for a rather tedious experience once you’ve seen your driver go sailing off over the horizon, ragdoll-like, a few dozen times.
You begin each session of Faily Brakes as a poor schmuck whose brakes go out during a nice Sunday drive. You go zipping over the guardrail, right over an oncoming train. It’s awesome. Then Brake Guy’s fate is entirely in your hands.
You’ll go careening over the hill, which is dotted with trees, bridges, rocks, and other obstacles aching to make you come to a sudden, painful stop. There are also roads, lakes, and train tracks, the latter two of which you’re supposed to leap over using ramps (unless you can find and use narrow passageways that let you skirt around objects). Your tumble goes on forever, so the point is to last as long as possible.
Sound fun? In theory, Faily Brakes should be tons of fun. It’s wacky, it’s based on a solid premise, and it has a great sense of humor — all winning stuff to help it stand out in the digital marketplace’s huge “endless action” market.
Here’s the problem: It’s difficult to control your vehicle in Faily Brakes. Your cars feel sluggish and heavy, and making slight turns causes your rear end to fishtail everywhere. Changing cars doesn’t seem to ease the problem (like Crossy Road, Faily Brakes lets you collect characters / vehicles). They all handle like three-wheeled Radio Flyers.
A hard-to-control car isn’t automatically a bad thing. After all, an out-of-control vehicle probably isn’t supposed to be easy to handle. But Faily Brakes’ hills are lousy with trees and rocks, and if you so much as brush against some pine needles, you go flying.
The game does take mercy on you here and there, like sometimes providing you with a power-up as soon as you start a stage. You might even get the Shield, which lets you plow through some objects. But once your power’s gone, you can expect to kiss concrete in no time.
It’s tempting to give Faily Brakes one more chance by saying, “Oh, you’re supposed to deal with a high failure rate, so you can learn from it.” That’s fine too –except Faily Brakes’ object placement is random, so there’s nothing to memorize, nothing to learn from. Worse, restarting a game takes several seconds, and you’re forced to sit through ads way too often (though you can eliminate these by making an in-app purchase).
Slide the Shakes is a good example of a game that forces you to learn from a high failure rate. Slide the Shakes also has consistent levels, very quick restarts, and spaced-out ads.
Faily Brakes seems like it ought to be a joyride, but it’s more like taking an awkward stop-and-go trip with your grandmother. It’s not beyond saving, though, and its premise is sound. I genuinely hope Spunge looks into fixing the game’s controls, level layout, and ad-spacing.