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I miss the warm welcomes and wide open spaces of FixFox

On the road again

FixFox came out a couple of weeks back, and I am in the process of reviewing it. This process is, currently, one in suspended animation, and has been for longer than I anticipated. I moved just before the release and my PC is still somewhere in or about the Irish Sea. Luckily I can link this to FixFox thematically, as a big exciting incident for the story involves waking up a man who was stuck in a cryopod. Around that, you, a fox called Vix, fix things in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi future where your tools are bananas and stamps.

I was several hours into FixFox before I left it, and discovered it was much larger than I expected. It's paradoxically cosy and friendly even as its world is vast and strange. I had some minor annoyances with this - you do a lot of travelling around, and in the early stages of the game there aren't many fast travel options to mitigate this. But now I've been without it for two weeks, I've found myself missing the big spaces and warm welcomes of that world.

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FixFox has a bit of a spaghetti Western vibe. For the most part, you travel between remote little homesteads and enclaves on a hoverbike. The game does introduce a few fast travel options to reduce your mileage - including ziplines, a drone taxi service, and secret underground tunnels - but if you're trying to find somewhere new then the bike is your best bet. Your bike, like your tool box, is sentient. It's got a little smiley face and makes a friendly beeping noise to open up those aforementioned secret tunnels. It's like your horse, in other words (granted horses don't beep, but you get me).

Its vibe is enhanced by the fact that the first area is an orange-and-yellow desert. Sometimes you get lost and have to head to the nearest settlement you know to get some new directions. I like that. I like planning it out, knowing that landmarks like the Ceramic Lake is part way to my destination, so you can call in there to get set back on the right path.

Night time isn't dangerous - FixFox is a non-combat game - but it does get tough to see where you're going, so you have a little bedroll in your pack to make a camp. Then you wake up just before dawn to continue your journey. By the time you get out of the desert area and on to new climes, you've learned to be the travelling, road-weary mechanic that you are.

To get out your bedroll you have to open your tool box, pick up the bedroll, and take it out to use it. Everything in FixFox is, in a small way, pleasingly manual like that.

And so really, the sheer size of Fixfox - the distances you have to travel, and the weird stuff that happens along the way - ends up making the cosy side of the game feel actually, well, cosy. When you're riding around on your bike the camera zooms out so you're all tiny, and you can't see other people anywhere near you. When you get close to a town or a camp it zooms back in again, so everything looks closer and more recognisable. And then you get to chat to some people, help them fix their stuff, and eat a lovely bowl of soup. It is the vastness of the journey that makes it a comforting relief to arrive and see familiar things around you.

And so while I sit here, two weeks on from an (in all fairness pretty small) international flight, still without some of my stuff, I am nostalgic for FixFox's feeling of homecoming.

That's a better thematic link than the frozen dude, isn't it?


Oh well.

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