Every once in a while an idea for a game comes along that is so ridiculous and out-there that you can’t believe it was made. A premise so wacky, strange, and unique that you are almost required to give it a whirl; if only to see what it’s all about. Enter ‘Roundabout’, a game that has you take control of the world’s first revolving limousine chauffeur service. That’s right, a stretch limo that constantly spins as you transport your passengers. Pop that mechanic into a 1970’s B movie theme, then throw in some live action actors and you’ve got one unique game. But is the game destined to be a cult-classic or a box office flop?
The game has you take control of the lovely, but oddly named driver Georgio Manos. A lady of few words, she mostly responds to her often looney costumers with a stern look or subtle smirk; but don’t let her lack of conversation skills fool you, she’s one skilled driver. Navigating a massive limo through obstacles hell-bent on blowing you up can be quite the challenge. You’ll have to master timing, use of the boosts, and drive almost as if you’re in one giant stationary game of Tetris. This may sound like a huge annoyance at first, but I found myself quickly having a blast slipping and sliding my way around cars and buildings. Something just feels good when you blast between obstacles in what looks like a nearly impossible way.
While most of the world is destructible, some structures such as light posts, cement barriers and other cars will damage your limo and eventually lead to a fiery explosion forcing you to respawn and continue. While this doesn’t end the mission, it does affect your completion time, and therefore affects your payment for the trip. Dying will also affect your placement on the leaderboards which the game has heavily integrated into the HUD and menus. You’ll see your world rank as well as how you rank against your friends after every completed job. The biggest setback with respawning is if the game happened to respawn you within an object. A few times I found myself spawning half-way in a house and exploding instantly. While this doesn’t happen often and when it does it doesn’t really affect the outcome of the mission, it was an unfair and a bit of a ‘what?!’ moment.
In order to get cash and progress through the game, you’ll have to drive around town picking up costumers. Some will simply want to be driven to a destination, while others may ask you to destroy mailboxes, pick up their kids from school, or even track down a rare type of bird. The missions are plentiful and decently varied when considering the type of game Roundabout is. You’ll find yourself wanting to do mission after mission, if only to meet the wacky new character fantastically featured in a live-action video that plays at the start and finish of each trip.
The live-action bits are poorly acted and often nonsensical little nuggets of charm that you can’t help but love. Sure the acting isn’t anywhere near what people would consider good, but that’s the point. If you played any of the live-action games from yesteryear, you’ll appreciate this title that much more. It’s charming, it’s fresh, and it’s what video games used to be; simple, silly, and fun. To give a gauge to the level of wacky this game hits, let me share this with you: Roundabout contains a mini-game challenge that is a re-imagining of the famous eight hour tedious trip Desert Bus from the officially unreleased game from 1995 created by Penn and Teller. Roundabout even goes as far as including a trophy / achievement for completing this hell. If you aren’t familiar with this horror, then read up on it.
Luckily you’ll be unlocking loads of upgrades to help you traverse the world. Everything from time-slowing perks to a perk that allows you to shirk your limo is provided to aid in your drive. You can also upgrade your limo with various paint jobs, horns, and even large roof-mounted items aptly named ‘hats’; the game has loads of different items to purchase and unlock.
Visually the game is colourful, clean, and easy on the eyes. While it’s not the photo-realistic style most games go for these days, it does present itself in a vibrant and sharp 1970’s colour-scheme that matches the overall style of the game. The look fits the gameplay and after playing, it’s hard to imagine it looking any other way.
The sound design is lovely as well. Sound effects match the wacky gameplay and aren’t overtly loud or grinding, especially considering how often you’ll be exploding. The music is fantastic and fits the game perfectly. Funky 70’s bass lines and catchy riffs will keep you toe-tapping throughout. I would definitely pick up the soundtrack on vinyl if it was made available. It is that great.
Overall, Roundabout creates some fresh, wacky, and unique gameplay, then mixes it with burnt orange, shag rugs, and plaid suits to bring us a game so 1970s it hurts (in a good way). The addicting gameplay and live-action cut-scenes will keep you coming back for more. If you’re looking to time-warp or just want a refreshing title to play, then give Roundabout a whirl.