There’s a simple beauty to The Beggar’s Ride that transcends its humble packaging. Presenting a quirky world filled with mystery and possibility, it yearns to be explored and understood. The game stars a simple beggar. He is old and overweight, physically defying every convention that one expects from a hero. It’s a charming premise, and a story unfolds as you progress through the various locations.
Visually, The Beggar’s Ride is bright and vibrant, with colorful objects and backgrounds. The visuals paint a whimsical atmosphere, teeming with big pink crystals, bulbous boulders, spiraling vines, and strange fruit trees. It’s clear that a lot of attention went into the graphical aesthetic; it remains fresh and enjoyable from start to finish.
The game can be played with either the mouse and keyboard or a controller. Surprisingly, the mouse and keyboard combo performs better, due to the mouse’s superior ability to drag and drop during puzzles. The controller cursor moves too slowly and can prove clunky when trying to toggle between multiple objects. The slow nature of the control stick even artificially enhances the difficulty of some of the game’s time sensitive puzzles.
For platforming, either control scheme works adequately, but not great. The Beggar moves slowly throughout the world, and jumping is a little awkward and floaty, especially during situations that require speed and precision. This is compounded by the fact that you can grab onto some, but not all ledges. After a while, you begin to learn which platforms can and cannot be grabbed, but it’s not very intuitive.
The collision detection is also sometimes questionable. There seems to be an invisible halo encircling the Beggar’s legs, and should any part of it touch a hazard, it results in his death. The control issues are somewhat minor, due to the fact that checkpoints are frequent and platforming sections are otherwise easy and forgiving with plenty of room to work. Though they weren’t always precise, I never got frustrated with the mechanics, but by the same token I never felt fully satisfied with the level of control.
Platforming composes maybe 40% of The Beggar’s Ride, while the rest involves puzzle solving, using powers that the Beggar gains throughout his journey. These abilities are novel, allowing the Beggar to move rain clouds, tilt the ground in order to roll objects, and later, control the rays of the sun and the phases of the moon. Most of the puzzles are pretty straightforward. Rain is used to raise water levels and to grow plants, while sunlight is used to cast shadows and reflect beams of light off of objects.
The variety is solid, and The Beggar’s Ride does a fine job of introducing new concepts throughout the course of the game. On the flip side, each new concept has been done elsewhere, and often better. While the Beggar’s Ride puzzles are functional and composed competently, they’re overly reliant on familiar tropes, and never ascend to greater heights. Controlling the elements is a great idea, but using them to water fruit trees and slide rocks around is a little too ho-hum. The game works best as an introduction to the puzzle genre, and the family friendly presentation makes it a fine game for children, and for those looking for a more casual experience.
The Beggar’s Ride is a breezy game, easy to pick up and play and welcoming to younger gamers. It doesn’t hit on all cylinders, but its reasonable price tag, visual aesthetic, and charming atmosphere make for an enjoyable afternoon.