When you mention a driving game, it’s hard not to immediately think of games like Forza, Fast and Furious or, my favourite, Gran Turismo. Driving games, however, don’t always mean racing games, and Switchcars is a much different proposition than just a driving game.
Mechanically, the game is fairly simple. You control a man either running, driving or flying to the right, making interdimensional shifts onto different plains as you go. At the same time, you’ve got to avoid oncoming traffic (or jump out of your car and nick a different form of transport if you prefer) and also try to outrun a strange worm-like alien that gives chase to you at short intervals. This continues until you die, or reach the year 2055 – possibly. I never actually made it that far because I kept drawing terrible lanes, where I couldn’t drive very fast and ended up getting eaten.
Changing the terrain is something that you can’t control, but you are made aware of what is coming up, and it certainly adds a lot of challenge – verging on ballache – when they do change. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and you’ll be able to progress as normal in your current lane with no worry about slowing down, but occasionally, you’ll be trying to drive a tractor in the ocean. Normally, when I’m out driving and suddenly find myself in the ocean, I’d panic, but the protagonist in Switchcars is much more composed than I am, as such an event barely fazes the guy. He’ll just pop up and nick the nearest boat in order to continue your quest to run.
Finding a boat is easy, but obviously, an interdimensional shift that forces you onto land could cause some issues for you – but Altfuture thought of this during their development – they’ve given you an ‘inventory’ that lets you hold up to three different vehicles that you can switch into and out of at the press of a button. This notion opens up a lot of potential ways to evade the oncoming alien, as you are able to fill your inventory with different types of car, lorry, plane or boat and use them at your will to avoid any traffic or flopping space-worms.
I know most people are doing pixel style graphics lately and I always comment about how good they look, but it’s because they’re just so appealing to me. The visuals on display in Switchcars are magnificent. Simple enough so that nothing looks overly complicated, but detailed enough to present a beautiful world, with many different ‘stages’ to it and dozens of different vehicles to crash.
There’s plenty of ways to commit grand theft auto, but despite that, the game is pretty limited. You are essentially just running to the right constantly and for the most part, it’s not very challenging. It is great fun for a short while, and despite the procedurally generated levels making for a different game each time, there’s not enough variety in gameplay to make it really noticeable. It’d be fine if the game was a free-to-play offering, or perhaps around £2-3, but for the price, it’s a little shallow.
The game is still in early access though, which gives me a little hope that it will grow a little more, though I’m not sure what more could be added to it. Despite the shallow status of it currently, it’s still very fun and worth a play, especially for those who enjoy short bursts of levels. Not something that could be played for hours on end, or at least, not from my experience, but definitely something that most people can pick up and play whenever.