So I found a new game on Kickstarter that I have been going back and forth on a lot; sometimes a like it then I don’t like it so much and then I stuff myself with whatever I can find in the fridge to forget my worries. Rides With Strangers is basically what it sounds like, a game where you hitchhike with complete strangers; I assume it is primarily inspired by a combination of the extreme risk in hitch hiking and the sudden popularity of ride share apps. My trouble with the game though is that it gives me the same feeling I get when I watch Fox news for too long; just spreading fear and paranoia with a sprinkle of stereotyping. The same reason I found it ironic that all the characters, ‘so far’ before someone bites my head off, are white. Of course just before I started writing this I noticed some comment stating that they are not just stereotyping and some of the drivers will be perfectly normal; so apparently someone thought the same thing I did and I’m not just paranoid and crazy! However, this does kind of take away from the game a little. In one case it improves the game because you don’t actually know if a jump scare is coming or not but at the same time after you drive with that person you will know if they even jump scare or not. I suppose there is the possibility they could randomize it but that is complicated and the comment specifically said ‘some characters won’t’ not that characters sometimes won’t.
I think I’m done standing on my soap box for the moment so let’s talk about the actual gameplay. Basically I can sum up the entire game experience in four well known words. Five. Nights. At. Freddy’s. While I find it to be much more creative myself it is basically a semi-simpler clone of Five Nights at Freddy’s where you just sit down and do little to nothing while you wait for the nearly inevitable jump scare. I may be a little near sighted on this because I have always found jump scares to be the most meaningless form of horror; they only work once if they work at all. Instead of a computer you look at the driver or out the window, instead of closing the door you open a window… or jump out of the car. I also have trouble with this because no one is going to be okay after jumping out of a moving car. Depending on the speed, which the player’s goal is to get to the destination faster, the person would be dead upon hitting the pavement. Not to mention that if you were that uneasy in the first place you probably shouldn’t have gotten in.
I don’t know, I played the demo for this game and it just didn’t wow me at all. It all looked kind of simple and played out and what kind of hitch hiker just waits in the same spot, you have to keep moving as well or you’ll never get anywhere. My main problem was that I couldn’t get the damn thing to work. I spent forever just trying to get a car to stop but I kept running into one issue after another. After a while I realized the issue was caused by the fact that the game doesn’t work very well using the touch pad on a laptop. Even after I dug up a mouse though the controls were so sketchy it took forever to get anywhere and I just didn’t care anymore at that point. So while there are good ideas here they have a long ways to go before they are put together. One thing I find interesting about this project is the team behind it; everyone on the project is some kind of freelance specialist with many years of experience and multiple projects from all across the country. How one person was able to pull together this group is beyond me and probably impressive.
Other than that this game feels a lot like Five Nights at Freddy’s in that it is a gimmick. An easy jump scare youtube video for other people to do with little replay value. Maybe it will turn out to be more than that but I wouldn’t hold my breath. For instance the game talks about having a story and how each driver has a deep background; but even if they do what would the point be? The main story is already forced but what good would it do to give each driver a rich personality? They are there for the sake of the jump scare and nothing else, it would be like giving Chica the background story of being a world famous singer. You’re trying to not let the driver get the jump on you, it doesn’t really matter what motivated it; especially when every character already embodies there persona like the stereotypical equivalent of a billboard.