13/11/2020

๐ŸŽ️๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽ️ Accident | EARLY ACCESS | Review | PC | "It’s nice to be making situations safer and administering first aid." ๐ŸŽ️๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽ️ @PixelHunted @games_glob #IndieGames #GameDev

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You’re pootling down the road and realise something is wrong up ahead. There’s been an accident: cars turned into jagged balls of metal and glass, fuel dripping ominously onto the asphalt, the pained groans of those cut to ribbons… and ominous silences from other vehicles. 

Nobody else is around - time to step up the plate and save some lives. 

But how? Where do you even begin?

Thanks to Duality Games and Glob Games Studio’s Accident I know the answer. First, you notify the emergency services and tell them exactly where you are, next mark out the scene with emergency triangles to prevent further collisions, then turn off the ignitions of the cars and start assessing who’s in need of medical attention.

It’s an odd topic for a game - but after so many titles that take pleasure in carnage and the destruction of the human body, it’s nice to be making situations safer and administering first aid.

Accident is also one of the rare games that actually taught me stuff I can apply to the real-world. While a real car wreck is obviously going to be far more chaotic than what we see in the game, the general principles of preventing further harm, stabilising the scene for the paramedics and correctly prioritising the victims seems like good advice.

The sense that you’re picking up useful knowledge makes some of the more uncomfortable moments worth it. There aren’t many video games in which you must administer CPR to a dying child while his mother’s corpse sits with a broken neck mere meters away. Buckle under the pressure and the kid will be joining her in the afterlife, so you’d better remember what you learned in crash test dummy training camp and breathe some air back in those lungs.

After the frantic dashing around comes the more relaxed detective work of working out how the smash happened - which involves finding evidence like skid marks, animal tracks or a smashed mobile phone and assembling a timeline of events. This isn’t a particularly hard chronological jigsaw to put together, though some of the pieces are a real pain in the arse to find.

Accident is still in early access so I’m prepared to forgive a lot, though there are a few obvious flaws that need to be addressed. The biggest is that the tension is spoiled by there being a prescribed route through each accident that you must follow - failure to do so results in a big ‘FAILURE’ screen and restarting from a checkpoint. The game teases “not being able to save everyone”, though in practice who lives and dies is preordained every time.

The game would be far more nerve-wracking without a binary system of win/fail - it’d be interesting to screw up a bit and have to deal with the aftermath. For example, there’s an early mission in which a multi-car pile-up has left one vehicle teetering over a cliff, The Italian Job style. You’ve got 30 seconds to figure out a way to stop it falling over the edge - if it does it is Game Over. Being able to play on past this and trying to save the remaining drivers while feeling the guilt about one of them dying would add some regret to the mix and encourage replays in order to do better.

It’d also make the end of level summaries a bit more involved. These are potted biographies that explain what happened to the victims after the crash: listing the physical and mental trauma they suffered, their new disabilities and how it has affected their lives. Even the dead get these, detailing the impact of their loss on their family and friends. They feel a bit exploitative, but being able to directly influence those futures with your performance and decisions would be very compelling.

Right now Accident is a bit rough around the edges, but the potential is obvious. Seeing this fleshed out into a dynamic game with branching narratives and consequences for your actions would tip it over from ‘weird but good’ to ‘this is genuinely awesome’. But hey, that’s what Early Access is for.

And if I ever come across a real car crash, I know what to do! Sort of.

7/10

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