Created by Oscar Brittain, Desert Child is a racing RPG that is heavily inspired by his love of animes such as Akira, Cowboy Bebop and Redline, and this alone was enough to have us interested. You play as a broke young hoverbike racer, whose end goal is to move to Mars. With the cost set to rise shortly, you need to make money - fast - via whatever method you can, be that pizza deliveries, robberies or racing.
Police can and will seize any money you have on you if you are pulled over, so make sure to always deposit into a bank as there is nothing more frustrating than having a great deal saved up and then losing it all in one fell swoop. The more illegal activities you get up to, the more likely the police are to stop you, so this needs to be kept in mind too. Money is what everything revolves around - you need to save to move to Mars, but you also need to pay for food, as well as bills and repair costs for your bike whenever it needs fixed. This constant grind for money, paired with the relatively low number of varied activities to do for money means that things can feel stale and repetitive quite quickly.
The pixelated art style is gorgeous, with a really authentic retro feel - the colours are stunning and everything really pops. The lo-fi hip-hop soundtrack is awesome and we really enjoyed most of the tracks - even the cheesier ones that at times will have you chuckling away to the lyrics when they match up to what you're doing (such as when you're doing the pizza deliveries). It's really impressive to think that one single person has created every part of this game, from the art, music, game design and animation, everything has been lovingly crafted by Oscar himself. As well as his influence from anime, hip-hop has been a huge point of reference for the making of Desert Child, with a link to Oscar's own Spotify playlist available here.
Mostly everything follows the same race format, whether that be herding kangaroos, taking part in actual races, or any of a number of other activities. It would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the style of activities on offer, and might have added another layer of RPG-ness to the game (as that side seems quite barebones).
Sadly, there's just not a whole lot of substance to the game itself, which is pretty disappointing as we were so excited by the initial premise. The beautiful aesthetic, as well as the cheap price point (only £9.59 on Xbox One) still make this a game we're happy to have tried out, and we'll definitely keep an eye out for any of Oscar Brittain's future releases, as we imagine that he'll only improve from here.
In the end, we decided to give Desert Child a 6.5/10.
Have you played Desert Child yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!
- V x