Don't mix beer and wine. Ever. And don't dabble in Golden Axe: Beast Rider when suffering from intercontinental jet lag. Let my folly become your wisdom. See, the Secret Level-developed update to the Golden Axe franchise is probably more... let's say... relaxing than it should be. That's a nice way of saying rather bland, as the rainbow of browns that permeate the game may lull hack 'n' slash fans into a restful slumber.
I mean, even the purple chicken things are brown.
That's not to say Golden Axe: Beast Rider is a bad game, from our hands on time with it. Just a bit uninspired, lacking in some tangible oomph, in the graphics department and the swordplay.
Beast Rider star Tyris Flare looks fantastic though. Whomever is responsible for her model and those perfectly modeled lower back dimples deserves a raise. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game does have its moments, visually. Hopping on a ridable beast that can camouflage itself with a Predator like effect looks pretty snazzy too.
The hand-to-hand action though, feels like a sludgier take on Heavenly Sword's combat system. Prior to attacks, Death Adder's minions will glow blue or orange, indicating whether you should parry or evade. If they glow green, it's ladies' choice. Respond accordingly and your next attack will be of the flaming sword variety.
Golden Axe: Beast Rider definitely gets some things right. The inclusion of throwback elements like the green and blue gnomes that drop refreshing meat ad magic potions return, as do the multi-tiered magic spells.
But many of the series' main draws — bright environments, co-op multiplayer and dazzling, increasingly ridiculous spells, metal bikinis — have been overlooked. And Flare's magic abilities just ooze boring. Where are the giant, fire puking dragon heads, guys? It's a game that appears to be full of good intentions — middling, road to Hell paving stuff.
We're not quite writing it off yet. Golden Axe: Beast Rider may have been only a semi-enjoyable slog, but we can see ourselves playing through a good portion of it, if only wanting for a thrill. Who knows if we'll leave the experience disappointed, because the game showed at least promise, even if it was a bit bland around the edges.