Developer: DNVR Prod | Publisher: DNVR Prod | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Casual / Indie / Racing | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam
Endless runners, where the goal is simply to get as far as possible is not a new concept in games. OutDrive transfers this theme to a neon-drenched 80s inspired landscape. However, according to the developer, it is not a game, but an aesthetic concept that marries VHS tapes and synth-pop. The result still plays like a retro-futuristic version of Outrun, but unfortunately in this case it is very much a case of style over substance.
OutDrive actually features a story, which involves the protagonist falling in love and trying to put his shady past behind him. However, it catches up with him and results in his girlfriend being fatally wounded. The only way to keep her alive is to somehow connect her heart with that of his car’s engine, but driving too fast or too slow will cause her to die. This leaves players driving endlessly through the Synthwave landscapes while trying to maintain the perfect speed.
Visually OutDrive features everything that one could want from the retro-futurism stylings of the Synthwave aesthetic. It has a sports car, bright neon colors, mountain and city landscapes, and of course the ever-present setting sun. Occasionally a helicopter also shows up to shoot at your car, but this can be disabled if players want a more relaxing journey. OutDrive doesn’t have a lot of graphical options, but players can select the resolution, set the antialiasing level, and toggle features such as fullscreen, vsync, and reflections on or off. The overall look of the game is very stylish, but most players will have seen everything there is to see within the first few minutes. The visuals can also become very hypnotic, which makes it a lot more challenging to survive for extended periods.
No Synthwave style game would be complete without a great soundtrack and in this regard OutDrive does not disappoint. It features several different tracks by groups such as Spaceinvader, Retouch, Prius an Sich, Pulse 80, and more. The tunes are all a perfect match for the style of the game and it is also possible to add your own custom music if you wish. However, the game only recognizes OGG and WAV files, not MP3. Unfortunately, it is the controls where OutDrive begins to falter. As we mentioned earlier, the purpose of the game is to stay between the lowest and highest speeds while following the road. A handy bar indicates your current speed, but it’s easy to lose track of it when you are being mesmerized by the landscapes. The music does begin to slow down if your speed drops too low, but the visual warning that pops up from driving too fast can easily be overlooked.
Simply holding down the accelerator is not enough to get your car to the optimal speed, which is something many players discover within six seconds of starting their run. Instead, players must also make use of a nitro boost to keep their car in the green zone as far as speed is concerned. This results in having to boost until the car is in danger of going too fast and then accelerating as normal as your speed drops before boosting again before it gets too low. Your car can also powerslide around corners, which is handy for keeping up your speed on curves. We initially tried playing the game with a controller and this proved to be an annoyingly twitchy experience. Just touching the analog stick was enough to send the car swerving all of the place, which is obviously not very relaxing. The car handles a lot better when making use of WASD controls, but it still feels a lot worse than other driving games. There also appears to be no penalty for leaving the road either. A few times we accelerated past a corner instead of power-sliding, which sent us flying off the road and into the surrounding neon gridlines. The game didn’t seem to care about this too much as long as our speed was maintained, so we were free to try and navigate our way back to the road. Unfortunately, we also managed to get knocked through the map by the helicopter once where we could hear our car but were stuck looking at a black screen.
With tighter controls and more variety OutDrive could have been a great game, but as it is there’s not much to keep players coming back for more. All the achievements in the game can be earned by simply keeping the girl alive for 90 minutes, but the best we could manage was 44, which was the point where we abruptly lost without warning. Presumably, it was due to exceeding the maximum safe speed, but it happened so fast we can’t be sure. OutDrive is a very cheap game, so it’s worth it just to experience the visuals and soundtrack, but there are far better options available as far as gameplay is concerned.
- OS: Windiws XP
- Processor: i3
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: GTX560
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Storage: 1 GB available space
- Additional Notes: It is likelihood that the game could be launched on Spectrum ZX processor.
- OS: Win 10
- Processor: i5
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: GTX560
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 1 GB available space
- Additional Notes: Wear sunglasses, a jacket bomber and preferably a toothpick for full immersion.