13/05/2021

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ’จ Hitchhiker | Review | XBOX SERIES X | 6.5/10 | "A Slightly Surreal Trip With Some Bumps in The Road" @MadAboutPandas ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ’จ @Hitchhiker_Game #IndieGames #GameDev

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Hitchhiker is a great premise; you are a mysterious passenger trying to piece together your past through surreal journeys with a mix of drivers. The enclosed space meaning that puzzles must be inventive to be interesting and the idea of working out your history and motives from rolling conversations that come from possibly unreliable narrators is a solid start.

Unfortunately, Hitchhiker unravels slightly around the halfway mark, meaning that the last ninety minutes or so don’t stand up to the initial intrigue that propels the game forwards.

Presented from a first-person perspective, your character spends each chapter sat next to someone and interacting with the surrounding paraphernalia in order to build up a fuller picture of the situation. Beginning with a friendly, down-south raisin farmer, the game pretty much sets all gameplay features up in the opening episode. 

You’ll have some dialogue choices, listen to a lot of talking and occasionally have to complete simple environmental or inventory-based puzzles. Whilst the colourful, smooth visuals and gentle ambient music sets the mood it’s the narrative that acts as the real hook here.

The game begins as a simple journey with the farmer making idle chit-chat and talking about his life, but it soon becomes clear that there’s a lot more going on that meets the eye. Crows circle the car and off-the-cuff comments and observations seem rife with hidden meanings. That’s not to say things get super-dark or ominous, just that things aren’t as cut and dried as the jaunty setting might make you feel as you drive past cornfields and rural farms.

The voice work is really good here and that’s a huge plus as the game is so dialogue-heavy. With such simplified gameplay that purposefully lacks a serious challenge so as to keep the narrative momentum going, a lot rides on the over-arching story and the strength of each separate episode – each chapter features you having various discussions with different people– and it’s here that things get shaky.

I enjoyed the first two chapters of the story but the third is where a lot of the narrative mystique is dropped and it’s made pretty clear what this is all about and the revelation feels very thin, especially when weighed up against the ponderous conversations that have been going on. When I thought back over the events of the game, I wished that the chapters were more standalone and the game didn’t have to worry about wangling in an overarching plot as this aspect is what brings everything down and ultimately feels a bit of a disappointment by the time the final reel is running.

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