So, it’s a new year and all and the release schedule at the moment is as barren as brain cells are at Love Island, so it’s not a bad time to do some retro reviewing. If you may remember way back towards the end of 2019, where I played a bit of Road to Guangdong at EGX. I thought it was rather a chilled experience, but it played fairly similar to another game – Jalopy and as I’ve never played it before, it seems like a good excuse to review it then?
The plot of the game consists of us the player and our Uncle Luffti. Who are from Eastern Berlin and decide to go on a road trip to Istanbul in Turkey. Our mode of transport is a beaten up, utterly piece of junk Laika 601 (based on the Trabant 601 is anyone is interested). A car that after finishing the said: “road trip”, broke down more times than film than an academy award winner during the acceptance speech. From Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey. While it doesn’t sound like much for context reasons, every hotel stop once Uncle has nodded off you can actually read some letters which do give some exposition and backstory. Also an incentive to continue onwards and the payoff is good enough.
Then we come to the gameplay side of things, it’s very much a simulation game. You have to monitor all of the components of the car – from tyres, down to engine components, also fuel unless you fancy pushing the car to the Bosporus. Luckily before you set off on the grand adventure there is an optional tutorial that explains it in detail what does what. So, once that’s done you get to choose your route which is procedurally generated which is a bit of a cheap move, but there are variables involved like weather, road conditions and distance and if discarded boxes or cars to loot – and once that’s decided it onto the open road.
Once you get to the border checkpoints you can refuel and fix the car, but you would need cash to do so, which is where scavenging can come into play. Make sure you’ve got no contraband when you come to the checkpoints, otherwise, some nice men with guns will ask for your wallet.
Controlling the car is also more extensive than the likes of Forza Horizon and deliberately awkward. From turning the key to the handbrake, even wipers and headlights and more are interactable. Which as a concept seems really promising and works – sort of, if the steering wasn’t awkward to use. Even on a controller as well. I understand it’s approach to realism with the car, but it’s rather annoying when dealing with kinks in the road.
Also, I would have liked some sort of choice of difficulties, like for example on one end you have just “get in and go” and the other side having to deal with stuff like a gearbox which would have added a dynamic to the game itself. So high revs, low gear would wreck the engine but higher gear would be much more economical but have very little performance. While I appreciate the approach I feel it could have gone further still, also once the main story is finished there isn’t much to come back to in the end. Overall, it’s an interesting experience than your Forza or your Gran Turismo. Having to keep on top of your car reliability as you go along your trip to Turkey, but while it has neat ideas It could have been pushed further still, and even less awkward steering would have been much better.
Now other stuff, the art style is more minimalist but easy on the eye – overall, very nice graphics, the sound design is alright, technically a bit patchy at times but fairly solid as a game. Coming back to the awkward handling for a moment, I feel it could have been an option to change the control layout.
Overall Jalopy is an interesting game, while I enjoyed the plot and where it wanted to go with the gameplay. Taking a rust bucket held together by hope alone across the eastern bloc while it had some solid foundations, I feel it could have been taken much further. The controls, while difficult could have been much more optimized for consoles, and it’s a short game as well so it doesn’t offer much for replayability.
Jalopy is an interesting game, while I enjoyed the plot and where it wanted to go with the gameplay it had some solid foundations, however, it could have been taken much further. The controls while difficult could have been much more optimized for consoles, and lack of replayability does dampen the full experience. A nice change of pace from the likes of Forza Horizon or The Crew.
- Interesting story
- Interesting gameplay concepts
- Change of pace from racing V12 monsters
- Handling can be awkward
- Concepts could have been pushed further
- The too simple handling model
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0