Line Rider started its life as a simple independent flash game with very simple mechanics. In it, you had an unnamed rider, and your task was to draw a course for him to sled along. Using surprisingly realistic physics, it was the kind of game you could tinker with for either minutes, or hours on end, constantly experimenting and pushing the simple system as far as it could go. Of course, it was then only a matter of time before it caught a publisher’s eye, and before the gaming world knew it, Line Rider: Unbound was born, using updated visuals (within reason) and a much more robust creation system. Now we have the sequel Line Rider 2:Unbound, and in addition to the track creator, a full story mode has been added, filled with puzzles and new challenges.
It’s almost disheartening seeing something small and independent lose its soul and become a commercial entity, but such is the nature of the world. The story is a very throwaway cartoon plot, our formerly unnamed hero now has a name (Bosh), a rival (Chaz), and a girlfriend (Bailey). What follows is a very predictable game of cat-and-mouse reminiscent of old Road Runner cartoons, but Line Rider was never about telling a story, so the slightly off-putting movie scenes are hardly an annoyance.
Where players will spend a good chunk of their time is the Story mode, where you’ll have to help Bosh reach the end of every course using the standard level building tools. Thankfully, you’ll never have to draw an entire course yourself, but there are missing portions of the track called “draw regions” where you have to fill in the blanks with your own lines. It isn’t all straight line drawing though, there are lines that increase momentum, slow Bosh down, or keep him moving at a steady pace. You’ll have to make hills, jumps, and even loops in order to reach your goals, and thanks to the clear, colorful visuals, it’s never a bore watching Bosh slide, flip, and yes, even crash around the environments. The freestyle mode that is the staple of the series makes its return, and the community features make it easy for you to either upload your creation to stump the world, or download another player’s monstrosity yourself.
It however, takes a certain kind of gamer to enjoy Line Rider, and that gamer is a patient one. Because the very nature of Line Rider is based on trial and error—drawing a track, seeing how it works, tweaking it to perfection—it’s no surprise that the puzzles in this game follow the same philosophy. It’s no surprise that they become more and more complex as the game goes on, and even at one point, you’re tasked with getting two riders to the end at once. The learning curve is a bit steep, even from the beginning , and success often comes from experimenting constantly with the different lines and options available until you’ve hit gold. While it sounds frustrating on the surface, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully navigating a track to its end is second to none.
In closing, <I>Line Rider 2: Unbound</I> is a fun, charming puzzle game that may fall victim to a steep learning curve, but remains enjoyable nonetheless. The user-friendly creation tool is also a huge bonus, ensuring fans will have plenty to do after the story mode is complete.