With Will Brierly's debut game on the Xbox One, Soda Drinker Pro, I was finally able to put my carbonated drink-sipping skills to the test. Soda Drinker Pro's premise is exactly as it seems; a sub-standard soda drinking simulator inflected with internet pop culture.
Parodying the modern gaming industry, the game allows players to drink a low-polygon soda, over the course of 102 hastily-designed levels. The developer obviously prioritized upholding the game's novelty factor over offering interesting gameplay, which isn't surprising when considering the game was developed in a single day.
"A substandard soda drinking simulator inflected with internet pop-culture"
Soda Drinker Pro's gameplay is centered around two simple actions: moving around; and, of course, drinking soda. The game adopts a common first-person control scheme, with movement and camera controls mapped to the two analog sticks, and soda drinking controlled through the two triggers. A simple hold of the left trigger lifts soda up to the player's mouth, and the right trigger takes a sip from the cup. That's all Soda Drinker Pro's controls allow for, giving the player an opportunity to explore levels with their cup of soda. Once the soda is depleted the player moves to the next level, which is mostly unchanged, aside from an altered environment. These levels can be played with no attention or skill whatsoever, each able to be completed in ten seconds.
The game's level design matches the hollow gameplay, entrapping the player inside a hollow cube, with inner walls plastered in pixelated graphics. This art style fits the rest of the game's 3D assets which consist of simple colored shapes plastered in poor lighting effects.
Throughout my time with Soda Drinker Pro I've imbibed soda across a wide range of locations, which slowly diverge further from reality as the game progresses. While I was originally stationed on the beach for a tranquil soda-sipping session, I soon moved into the far reaches of space, along with psychedelic rooms, and the soft hills of a human butt.
The one redeeming aspect of Soda Drinker Pro is its soundtrack, which adds a flair of excitement to your soda-drinking adventures. The upbeat melodies contrast with the rather dull gameplay but fail to improve a flawed premise.
"Stands out from the existing ID@Xbox library, but for the wrong reasons"
After reading this far into our review you're probably wondering what the catch is. Sadly, that's all that Soda Drinker Pro offers, but the developer's other project, Vivian Clarke, offers a much more engaging experience. I mention Vivian Clark as the game is included alongside the purchase of Soda Drinker Pro, but in a rather unconventional way. During the second level of Soda Drinker Pro, walking into to a drawing of a house on the wall (shown above) will take you to Vivian Clark's main menu. This isn't something I've seen from a game before and, while creative, feels like a weak joke from the developer.
Vivian Clark is a massive improvement on Soda Drinker Pro, but still far from recommendable. More than anything, Vivian Clark is a collection of mini-games, each with a vastly different genre than the last. These mini-games are mostly comedic, either due to the ridiculous concepts they're based upon or the poor quality of gameplay. The result of these incoherent levels is a mix of genres that continue to get more convoluted over time, with no clear set of game mechanics. Some of these mini-games are undeniably fun, but hugely inconsistent.
Vivian Clark's strongest trait is its unique, eerie art style which places two-dimensional characters inside a three-dimensional environment. The style does differ between game modes but often mixes illustrative characters with simple 3D models. The style does set the game apart from any existing ID@Xbox games, despite much more visually-pleasing products being available on the Xbox Store.
Soda Drinker Pro is a humorous concept and while entertaining in theory, after one minute of playtime you'll have experienced all that's on offer. The game hidden inside Soda Drinker Pro, Vivian Clark, is an improvement on the beverage-sipping simulator but fails to offer consistently engaging gameplay. The package as a whole stands out from the existing ID@Xbox library, but maybe not for the right reasons.
- Vivian Clark offers a bizarre, yet interesting collection of mini-games
- Well-suited art style, merging 2D and 3D assets
- Truly unique experience unlike anything I've played before
- Not enough content for the $10 price point
- Fails to entertain after a few minutes of game time
- Both games are inconsistent and convoluted
This review was conducted on Xbox One using a copy provided by Microsoft.
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