Against more difficult foes, post-evasion strikes are the only effective way to deal damage. Tough foes will be armored, which means your attacks will not interrupt theirs until you manage to chop away their protection. To weaken them, you'll want to attack, but while straight-on assaults may work with lazier enemies, they are tantamount to suicide when facing vigorous foes. It's like this: Though you can theoretically interrupt your own combos with evasions to avoid your enemy's strikes, you can't reliably interrupt your own attack animations, so you're sure to get slammed if you go in swinging. This means you are better off just waiting for your enemy to attack you and then evading and countering. What kind of action game rewards running up to your opponents and standing still? To make matters worse, the spotty enemy AI will sometimes wait for you to attack first, so you can find yourself hanging around with a bunch of murderous goons waiting for someone to make the first move. There's certainly a challenge in restraining yourself, perfecting your evasion timing, and trying for high tribute bonuses, but just because it's hard doesn't mean it's fun.
This little fella will tear you in half without breaking a sweat.
Magic is also a reliable way to dispatch foes, but mana refills are rare enough that you won't be able to use your spells too often. Thankfully, beasts are more prevalent, and you'll spend a good amount of time clomping around on the backs of these hulking monsters. Each can be easily mounted with the press of a button, but you'll often have to unseat enemy riders first. Your best bet here is a jump kick; attacking the beast directly can force it to throw its rider, but then you'll be mounting a weakened animal who is closer to gory, blood-spouting death. Setting your enemies alight with the fire-breathing Abrax or tearing through a large group of unsuspecting enemies with the Lynth can be quite satisfying, but using some of the beasts' special attacks will drain their health. Still, these powerful maneuvers are helpful in a pinch, and using a berserk Mirigore to rend everyone limb from limb is some of the best fun Beast Rider has to offer.
Unfortunately, these thrills are tempered by the fact that every beast sounds and handles like a giant, clunky robot. This awkwardness forces you to attack in very specific and limited ways, especially when confronting the aforementioned armored foes whose attacks will still proceed unblocked even when five tons of Krommath comes crashing down on their heads. Though these bungling beasts offer a few moments of fun, they ultimately add to the feeling that the whole game was a missed opportunity.
At the very least, the campaign is fairly lengthy and will likely take you upward of 10 hours to complete. There are level-by-level replays and combat arenas if you want still more action, but these bonus modes only highlight the conspicuous absence of the cooperative play that put Golden Axe on the map back in 1989. This baffling omission is par for the course in Beast Rider, a game with lofty potential that ends up wallowing in mediocrity.