I don't drive myself, and while that's mostly because I can't afford a car, don't really need one for work and have wibbly environmentalist sensibilities, it's also because the experience of driving, for me, has been thoroughly spoiled by videogames. I mean, just look at this trailer for Ironwood's Vandemeerian vehicle survival roguelike Pacific Drive. How am I supposed to be satisfied with some stupid road after watching that? What's the point of cars if there are no floating cryptid lifeforms, inexplicable walls of energy or lost research facilities involved?
Pacific Drive is sort of a mixture of My Summer Car and Annihilation, in which you explore a mysterious Exclusion Zone in your station wagon, searching for parts, secrets and occult energy cores with which to activate the portal back to everyday reality, which triggers a battle royale-style race to escape an imploding map. You'll occasionally have to ferret about on foot, and I'm guessing that crowbar in your right mitt isn't just for performing repairs.
Katharine saw Pacific Drive up-close this spring and was rather impressed by it, describing it as "Control on wheels" (sorry, I'm piling up the comparisons like nobody's business). Here's a longer excerpt from her preview: "The way the shape of the forest gradually emerges through the mist, the sudden flash of an abductor eye through the trees up ahead, and the constant challenges posed by the changeable weather all add up to make the Zone an intriguing, yet dangerous space."
There seems to be a nice helping of automotive maintenance involved, though the game very much isn't in thrall to the dark gods of Realism. You'll have to worry about petrol, battery power, burst tyres and phantom octopus creatures - the aforesaid "abductors" - tearing off your car's doors to get at the juicy human being inside. The developers also told Katharine that your car will pick up various quirks, such as the headlights turning on when you use the radio, and will "develop a personality". I wonder how literal they're being here.
Pacific Drive also now has a proper, grown-up release date: 22nd February 2024. I'm looking forward to it. If you're also keen, you should definitely check out Beware, which is less videogamey and much grimmer, inspired as it is by the author's childhood experiences of escaping the secret police in Soviet Czechoslovakia.