Ride to Hell: Retribution Review

  • First Released Jun 24, 2013
  • PC

Ride to Hell: Retribution is a hideous, slapped-together action game saturated with poor, nonsensical design choices.

Much like with terrible movies and songs, games that are nigh unplayable are something of a collective joke shared by millions. Unfortunately, Ride to Hell: Retribution is unapologetically, aggressively horrid. Set in the late 1960s and ostensibly built around the exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder that followed more than a few soldiers back home after the Vietnam War, Ride to Hell initially seems like a fresh take on video game warfare. That initial optimism quickly wears off however, as the complete disregard for anything even remotely passing as fun or functional gameplay becomes apparent.

Biker gangs fight near heavy construction equipment. Who knew?
Biker gangs fight near heavy construction equipment. Who knew?

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The protagonist of this hellish torture software is Jake Conway, an emotionally scarred Vietnam veteran looking to make a nice, calm life for himself following his return stateside. Shortly afterwards, Jake's younger brother is killed by a biker gang, at which point Ride to Hell becomes an excruciatingly cliched tale of revenge. Every attempt at maturity devolves into shoddy melodrama. By the tale's end, provided that you haven't attempted an auto-lobotomy, you'll have been drenched in the game's pathetic, out-of-touch approach to sex, violence, and masculinity. Even if Ride to Hell could pass as a broken and buggy parody of the patently offensive, none of the characters seem to be in on the joke. Tragedy is greeted with no more subtly than a prolonged, agonizing "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" and sexuality is given the same level of reverence as a pornographic film. In the few instances Ride to Hell begins to approach something of even tangential relevance, poorly written, self-referential humor kills the mood.

Worse yet, every mind-numbingly awful innuendo and facsimile of human emotion is further injured by some of the most horrific voice acting imaginable. Video games are not often exceptionally voiced, but it's probably been the better part of a decade since something this ear-bleedingly bad has been released. Most of the characters sound like they were recorded in their bedrooms, moments after being woken up from a good week or two of binge drinking. The actors cannot cobble together anything like tangible human emotion.

At least some of these crimes against conscious thought might find forgiveness if Ride to Hell weren't such a technical disaster. Crashes, graphical bugs, disappearing audio, and many more issues are shockingly frequent. In some instances, enemies will appear and then die for no apparent reason. Timed missions sometimes randomly end 30 seconds or more early, and your survival seems randomly determined. When playing Ride to Hell, you exist at the whim of some of the buggiest software ever released.

The screen's gone black and white. That's how you know things are serious.
The screen's gone black and white. That's how you know things are serious.

Going beyond pure technical problems, Ride to Hell actively hates you and your sanity. Most of the controls are woefully positioned with almost no regard for what would actually make sense. Instead of keeping with WASD for movement, and using the keys closest to them to keep things easy for the player, the two most important keys for large chunks of the game bounce between E, R and the mouse buttons. It's disorienting, and you cannot remap the keys, so the controls are never practical. Furthermore, some keys are bound to functions that aren't ever labeled, so you're left to flounder until you figure out what the game expects of you.

When you strip away all of the profoundly rotten layers of this particular onion, you discover action that is merely shallow during the rare moments that it isn't fundamentally broken. Within the first few minutes, you're introduced to all of the major elements of play. Shootouts, fistfights and chopper duels constitute the lion's share of Ride to Hell, and each of them is worse than the last.

For the most part, gunplay is actually functional, in the sense that the targeting reticle moves when you attempt to move the joystick or mouse, and people generally die when you click on them. Even so, the reticle has an agonizing amount of lag that will cause even seasoned shooter veterans to miss easy shots. Thankfully, your foes have just as much trouble hitting you, provided they choose to do anything at all.

Melee combat is based on the shallowest quick-time events imaginable. There's no system for combos, no real learning curve, nothing allowing you to learn and improve your play over the course of the game--just button-mashing. Fighting rival biker gangs on motorcycles works pretty much the same way: a random key will flash on the screen and you're given a few fractions of a second to respond appropriately. With road combat, however, enemies rush in from nowhere and lock you into a battle before randomly flying off and exploding, often without you having to really do anything. They just ride up next to you and then die for no reason, and that's about it.

Pro tip: that symbol means 'press shift.'
Pro tip: that symbol means 'press shift.'

Outside of killing folks, there isn't much to do. There are a few hubs, and there's an open world that supports some degree of exploration, but Ride to Hell completely misses the point of having an explorable landscape. For such an interesting setting, the game is populated with virtually nothing of interest. There's a shop where you can buy more weapons, and there are a few characters to talk to, but more guns means more awful combat, and more dialogue means more tragic storytelling and unbearable voice acting.

Ride to Hell is painfully insubstantial. Its mechanics are mostly broken and have no depth, there's no sense of progression, and there are no skills that can be learned and then applied to create a feeling of accomplishment or a better understanding of the game. That people are being asked to spend time and money on this garbage shows a profound lack of respect for consumers. All one can do is marvel at the latest entry to the list of candidates for "Worst Game of All Time."

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The Good

  • N/A

The Bad

  • Some of the worst voice acting imaginable
  • Awful writing
  • Controls only occasionally function properly
  • Almost every aspect of the game is broken in some fashion
  • Poorly veiled attempt to pass off juvenile melodrama as a mature story

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