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Planes, Trains And Everything Else: Switchcars

Driven to Distraction

I've been mostly absent from the internet for a week, enjoying a holiday that involved as little in the way of online interaction and vidputergames as possible. I did take some time to play a rather splendid game though. I'm not sure if you've heard of it.

It involves procedurally generated worlds, littered with resources, and you must navigate those worlds in vehicles that run out of fuel extremely quickly. Sometimes, alien slugs will attack. The game is called Switchcars [official site] and it's delightful.

To be clear, Switchcars is an ultra-fast action game that has almost nothing in common with No Man's Sky. You move from left to right, attempting to outrun time itself as you travel through decades and environments, always trying to stay one step ahead of the alien temporal-whale-slugs that are trying to eat you. That's what I take from the experience, at any rate.

The way you escape - and the clue's in the title - is by switching between different vehicles. You might find yourself on a highway, with several lanes stacked with cars. You can jump in one of those cars and speed away, but you could also collect up to three cars in different 'inventory' slots. The push of a button switches you between the vehicles you've collected, so you can behave like some kind of transformer-bot, springing from sea to air, and crashing back down onto a dirt road just in time to switch into an offroad form.

Behind the three vehicles, you also have your on-foot persona, which is surprisingly useful. A grappling hook lets you propel yourself forward, provided there's something to attach it to, and there are plenty of other powerups to discover.

Switchcars is a very strange game and I think it's a very good one. There's very little in the way of depth - you drive until you die, or reach an endpoint - but the surface is remarkably detailed. Vehicles react with surfaces in convincing fashion, tires burst, trains spark and scream along concrete, planes plummet when their fuel is gone. And the most recent update has added animals - I've spent time riding horses and elephants already.

Switchcars is still in Early Access but there are over a thousand vehicles, loads of different environments, and a remarkable degree of polish.

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