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Howard Phillips Lovecar splutters out of early access

The apostrophe's gone AWOL

What a grotesque little thing Howard Phillips Lovecar is. Think naval combat by way of cultists and automobiles, where you drive around squishing never-ending waves of eldritch beings. There's a simple upgrade system, but that's pretty much it - if you're looking for your next Odyssey-sized timesink, this isn't it.

If you're looking for something to chuck £2 at and go 'eurgh...hmm...this is quite fun', then Lovecar won't steer you wrong.

As Alec has already noted, it's the noises wot make it. The constant babble of the cultists sounds to me like bureaucratic suits conversing in menacing undertones, or a business meeting where the attendants are deciding which unholy abomination should be next on their summoning list.

All of them, it turns out? Every creature is a mess of spikes and tentacles, sometimes with a face or a giant eyeball, sometimes just meaty squiggles. Your bullets splat against them, occasionally dismembering but usually just getting absorbed into withering flesh. I've only take the Lovecar out for a handful of spins (ew), and at my level I can barely kill one of the things before I've been swamped by half a dozen more. If I can survive for a minute, then new terrors appear that shoot back rather than just wriggle towards me. I'm yet to survive past those.

The marketing blurb is keen to push this as a four-wheeled take on Devil Daggers, a comparison that's structurally sound but doesn't do Lovecar any favours. The driving and shooting succeeds on its own terms, especially when you're feeling daring and simultaneously let loose on two foes on either side of you while scooting through the perilously small gap between them. It feels ponderous compared to the razor wire ballet of Devil Daggers, though. Most games do.

The launch update has brought achievements and new sounds, plus a new enemy. The past year of updates added leaderboards and a tournament mode, for when you've got friends over and need to see who'd survive longest if everything went Mad Max.

If your interest is piqued, there's a free version of an old build on Itch.

Howard Phillips Lovecar is available for Windows, Mac and Linux via Steam for £1.69/$1.99/€1.59.

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