It’s the middle of the night, you’re traveling down a lonely road at 100km/h, only the radio to keep you company. At first. There is much more to Glitchhikers: First Drive than simply… going along for the ride. Journey, destination, and so on.
That said, I’ve never done the ‘drive through the night’ thing. Whether that’s simply because I do not have a driver’s license or something else, I do not know. Once the credits rolled on Glitchhikers: First Drive, I couldn’t help but think that I might have been missing out on a rather extraordinary experience. Or at least, that’s what I would have said, provided we weren’t talking about a video game that’s described rather accurately with its very title. You’ll likely notice this sooner rather than later.
Something that becomes immediately apparent, however, is how little control you have over, well, anything, in the game. You can change lanes, increase or decrease speed with a fixed lower limit of 90 and upper of 120km/h, look left and right, and that’s about it. If not for the dialogue-related bit that appears during this brief tutorial, one might be pondering just what there is to do during the drive, aside from enjoying the scenery. But as mentioned earlier, there’s quite a bit to experience here, and as far as I can tell – from multiple playthroughs – a certain element of randomness in exactly what happens; or rather, who you happen upon.
See, over the course of twenty minutes or so, you’ll be introduced to… well, hitchhikers, and quite the varied bunch too, each with their own personality traits and dialogue. What bumps this particular aspect up a notch from ‘interesting’ to ‘pretty great’ is the fact that conversations can go in a multitude of directions, depending on how you respond when prompted, picking between a handful of lines. Oh, and hovering the mouse of each shows exactly what will be said prior to making the choice – something I wish a certain fourth-game-in-the-series had done instead of what we ended up with.
I don’t believe there’s a time limit to your response, and adding to that – the car is on auto-pilot, aside from lane changing and speed, meaning you’re free to ponder over how to reply for as long as you like. Given the at times deeply philosophical nature of the exchange – in spite of the fact that you met for the first time mere moments ago – this is an undeniably good thing. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices here either, and chances are at least one of the encounters are going to stick with you right up to the point where the credits roll, for no matter how you respond, you’ll get a reply, a reaction. Something to further the conversation and keep silence to a minimum. Then you turn your head for a second, look out at the night sky, suddenly realizing that the stars are actually shining a little brighter on this dark night.
In case you couldn’t tell from all that, Glitchhikers: First Drive is very much a slow, thought-provoking experience – one meant to make you slow down and think about things you would perhaps otherwise have simply cast aside as being unimportant or downright irrelevant. It certainly did that and more for me, and as such, I can’t wait to see what Silverstring Media has in store for Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between, “an expanded experience, reborn and reimagined”. Although seeing how that won’t be out until later this year, for now, I would highly recommend taking the original for a… First Drive.
Glitchhikers: First Drive is available on itch.io, for free.