Although Lococycle’s blatantly bizarre story is terrific, most of its gameplay elements get old really quick.
Right from the get go, Lococycle presents itself as a pretty unconventional and ridiculously bizarre title. Inspired by a fight scene from modern masterpiece Torque in which two women fight using motorcycles, Lococycle puts you in the shoes (or should I say wheels?) of a sentient motorcycle known as I.R.I.S. But she isn’t alone on her cross-country journey, since she’s accompanied by her mechanic Pablo who’s chained to the motorcycle. As you can see, Lococycle doesn’t take itself too seriously and while its blatantly bizarre story is terrific, most of its gameplay elements get old really quick.
The game opens during a secret meeting that gathers all major leaders of the world. During the exhibition, two motorcycles are presented: I.R.I.S. and S.P.I.K.E. These are two sophisticated killing machines that also happen to speak dozens of languages. Suddenly, the motorcycles are struck by lightning and naturally, they come to life. While S.P.I.K.E. decides to adopt the dark path of evil and revenge, I.R.I.S. attaches herself to a mechanic named Pablo and drags him around as she defends from the people who want her back.
All the cutscenes are in live-action, featuring famous actors Lisa Foiles, Robert Patrick and Freddy Rodriguez. Overall, the live-action scenes are terrific not only because they feature recognizable actors, but also because they maintain the feeling of uncertainty and ridiculousness that reigns every aspect of this racing game.
So you race, dragging Pablo around and when suit-wearing enemies appear in front of you, you attack them, perform combos and dodge them until you dispatch all foes. At your disposal, you have two basic attacks: attacking with I.R.I.S. is faster, but makes less damage and attacking with Pablo makes more damage, but takes more time. Alternatively, if you don’t want to come close to the enemies, you have a ranged attack in the form of a machine gun. To counter attack or dodge enemy attacks, you need to push the buttons that appear on-screen at the precise moment and as the story progresses, QTEs become more and more common. Finally, I.R.I.S. has a turbo and you can use this move to ram into enemies or simply to reach certain events as fast as you can.
So you automatically drive, shooting at enemies, counter-attacking them, performing combos, ramming into them and so on. Overall, the combat is simple, but enjoyable. There’s certain elegance and finesse to it, but the problem is that it soon becomes boring and repetitive. Some of the upgrades (more on this later,) keep the game interesting, but after a while, you feel bad for the bad guys. After all, they don’t stand a chance against I.R.I.S. and Pablo.
After each mission, your performance is graded and you receive points that let you upgrade your attacks. Upgradeable attributes include mêlée attacks, combat techniques, turbo improvements and weapon upgrades, among others. Although some upgrades are fun to use, most of them don’t make the combat feel fresh and unique. Apart from buying upgrades, there’s a virtual shop called The Garage where you can purchase cutscenes, photos, behind-the-scenes videos, music content and more, using in-game currency.
It’s almost impossible to write a review about Lococycle and not make reference to its bizarre sense of humor. An ongoing joke involves Pablo speaking Spanish and I.R.I.S. speaking English and since the motorcycle has suffered a malfunction that prevents her from speaking (and understanding) languages other than English, none of the things both characters say make sense to each other. Seeing how one character say something and then the other replies something completely unrelated is funny, but if you don’t understand Spanish, you’ll need to look at the subtitles at the same time you’re fighting enemies.
As I.R.I.S. drags him around, Pablo complains about his back, cries for help and tries to negotiate with the enemy. While that happens, I.R.I.S. enjoys the scenery, performs flashy attacks and utters non-sequitour after non-sequitour. This unconventional relationship maintains things fresh for a while, but when phrases start repeating, you won’t laugh as often as you used to.
So believe it or not, a game where you assume the role of a sentient motorcycle that drags a Spanish-speaking mechanic around and destroys everything in her path gets old really quick. The game itself isn’t that long, but since combat eventually becomes boring and the story has nothing new to offer, the game’s length feels more than appropriate (finishing Lococycle should take you around 5 hours.)
Ultimately, Lococycle is a disappointing game, not because it’s bad, but because its bizarre nature had so much to offer and the game doesn’t live up to its promise. The live-action sequences, voice acting and unconventional premise are terrific, but everything else about Lococycle becomes boring and repetitive, which is definitely a shame.