Driving Survival is a horror game about car chases

A few months ago, I wrote about a game that I thought might be the first horror and driving mash-up. Driving Survival [dev blog] (it’s a working title) takes that collision of genres to another level entirely though. The development blog is host to videos and gifs that suggest a game of vehicular pursuit that takes as many cues from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as from Interstate ’76 and FlatOut. You’re trying to make your way across a ruined landscape, chased by almost-humans who try to run your car off the road, and then pour out of their own vehicles to surround and slaughter.

This is one of those cases where some animated pictures really are going to be worth a thousand words, so take a look at all of these and I’ll join you after the clips, when you’ve had your fill.

Watch the rear-view mirror when the baddies are up close behind. Horrid. Reminds me of Jacob’s Ladder.

Developer Ondřej Švadlena posts regularly on the TIGSource forums, where he has discussed the game’s world with reference to his own animated short films. Here’s a teaser for the most recent, Time Rodent, on which Driving Survival is based.

When I was watching the videos of the actual game, Inside came to mind. The world is similarly bleak, and the relentless pursuit reminded me particularly of the early scenes of that game, during which you run through cornfields and seemingly abandoned places that remind me of the settlements in the videos above. The clip from Time Rodent is even more reminiscent of Inside, bringing one particular scene to mind immediately. It’s an odd game to think of in relation to a driving game, but this does look like a very different kind of driving game.

We’re seeing more of this kind of thing, with Jalopy and My Summer Car both aiming to emulate aspects of roadtrip rather than racing, and while Driving Survival is clearly a different kind of thing entirely, pursuit is an underused verb in games, I reckon. Particularly racing games. Being chased requires AI that can hunt believably and ruthlessly (but not too ruthlessly as to make the end result abrupt/inevitable) and a good portion of the development blogs focus on creating the right kind of driver behaviour, as well as ensuring car handling is loose enough to make for panic and tension.

“I would like to take a moment to talk about the game’s driving AI system. One of my priorities was to achieve a believable, human-like behavior of the NPC drivers. For me and other gamers with whom I’ve discussed this, one thing that is disappointing and immersion-braking in open-world driving games is bad AI. It’s either too dumb or strongly cheating on the physics, or both. Take Driver:SF or the GTA series for example. You can drive like a god but the cop cars chasing you will have extraterrestrial acceleration capabilities, coupled with a car mass of a locomotive and tires covered with suction cups. It just feels too unfair, and although a subjective notion: not fun.

“Many popular games also tend to hide the flaws of their driving AI with a quantity over quality approach, by either spawning numerous vehicles coming from all directions or/and by introducing a gun-shooting response. Here, on the contrary, there is a strong emphasis on programming the NPC cars to be as skilled as possible and building favorable conditions to allow for a gradual building-up of the tension.”

Audio needs some work, if it’s to match the mood and quality of the rest of the presentation, and then something needs to be done about that working title. Until then, I’ll stick to calling it Driving Survival and look forward to the hunt, whenever it begins.


  1. Alien says:

    Wow, great concept and visual design!

    Can you get out of the car? It would be great and atmospheric if you would have to get out occasionally to search for supplies in decayed houses, markets etc. …

    • DeadCanDance says:

      Just like Outlander, a 1990 snes classic.

    • Massenstein says:

      Oh yeah indeed! That would add whole another level of terror. You’d have to park your car well-hidden somewhere, and the sounds of passing cars would be the sounds of dread – and doom, when one of them stops and then you hear the doors opening.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      Agreed! Putting some distance between you and the monsters, getting out to rummage through an abandoned petrol station, then hearing the roar of their truck in the distance could be chilling.

    • fco says:

      brilliant. one of those “how no one thought of this before?” concepts.

      imagine waiting with the lights out while the enemy slowly passes by looking for you..
      or to decide if driving with the lights out to avoid drawing attention (and risk crashing)

    • nobuko says:

      NEVER get out of the car.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Driving Survival? They really missed the opportunity to call it Surdrival.

    • Unclepauly says:

      The main character person could be Sir Drivel, an old nickname given to him by a couple of roommates from his youth.

  3. CartonofMilk says:

    if someone could someday combine this with something like 7 days to die.

  4. GameCat says:

    “Developer Ondřej Švadlena posts regularly on the TIGSource forums”

    Also on RPS forums.

  5. Vitz says:

    Well, it definitely looks good, but I sure hope there’s more to it than what’s shown here. Driving around aimlessly while just being endlessly annoyed by other drivers doesn’t exactly sound fun to me.

    • Nosada says:

      Sounds like my daily commute really … Riding a motorcycle in commuter traffic is a lot like this game, in that every car is seemingly out to kill you for no apparent reason.

      • inspiredhandle says:

        Amen. Especially this time of the year (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere) where every commute is dark/wet/cold. Couple that with the fact that every motorist seems to divide their attention 30:70 to driving/using phone respectively.

        Stay safe out there!

  6. Zach Fett says:

    Ooo he’s got deformable terrain too. I love that stuff! link to i.imgur.com

    • inspiredhandle says:

      This. Felt the same way after I booted up war thunder with max settings for the first time. Deformed snow/mud under wheels/tracks gives me warm tingly feelz. Defo a game to keep an eye on

  7. gbrading says:

    This seems cool; reminds me of Steven Spielberg’s first film, Duel, and of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Will need more gameplay than simply “survive and drive” though.

  8. jonahcutter says:

    Mad Max was a great game in its own right. Solid and extremely satisfying, while nailing the aesthetic. But this looks like it might be closer to the low-fi, crunchy spirit of the first two films of that film series than the Mad Max game actually managed.

    Being able to get out and rummage in an old gas station for some gas, water, dog food and a couple of bullets would top it off.

  9. fupjack says:

    I want multiplayer. Not because it would do anything, but because the only thing more terrifying than driving like mad to get away would to also be not in control of the car. So yeah, just a camera in the passenger seat is all you’d need.

  10. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I will be all over this. Every GTA game usually just becomes a car-chase sandbox for myself.

  11. April March says:

    This looks brilliant. And yeah, the AI seems to be stellar – they appear to feint and try to surround the runaway driver.

  12. wu wei says:

    Driver: Silent Hill

  13. manny says:

    Some good ideas for gameplay additions.
    – Be able to shoot from inside the car, at the guys in the other cars.
    – be able to shoot the tires, shoot the windshield and the lights. Slowing down their car.
    – Guys get out of the car more slowly, and not all at once. They can be left behind if your quick and whittled down in number. In addition, this would leave a trailing group of bad guys after you, after you car breaks down.
    – Bad guys would be blaring music at you and talking trash to lower your morale.
    – Breaking the other cars frontlights, with your rear lights would be an important strategy, as it would slow the car down behind you.
    – slow mo