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Switchcars Early Access Review

Remember when the internet was starting to get popular?

The days of ICQ, AIM, and Shockwave games? Many hours were spent on the early results of the Internet age. While these things were simple, a lot of people took a liking to them. Switchcars is a reminder of those times, and it is not a bad thing. Developed by Altfuture, this retro-styled project is getting rave reviews by consumers. There is a lot to like about it, but it does have a few drawbacks.

Switchcars is a two-dimensional side-scroller, where the aim is to get to the other side of the map within a certain time limit - or else aliens will eat you. To complete the journey, you must take control of various cars, boats, trains, planes, and other modes of transportation. Each one has a different feel, and some are faster than others. Choosing vehicles is critical when it comes to accomplishing your goal. You could have a flawless run, but if you are too slow, the aliens will have you for lunch.

The aliens aren’t the only thing holding you back.

The terrains frequently change, so this is where switching cars comes in (HEY! SWITCHCARS!). While this is obvious, the following needs to be said: boats drive best in the water, trains can only ride on tracks, planes in the air, etc. Since terrain changes quickly, changing vehicles needs to be done quickly too. There are three slots to store vehicles, but you are not stuck with the three you choose. At any time, you can hop out of whatever you’re driving and hijack another vehicle, GTA-style. Cars also have gas and can get damaged to the point where they won’t move, so holding on to a great ride becomes a little difficult. Refueling and repair stations are few and far between, thus coercing you to keep finding new ways to progress.

Switchcars starts, by default, in the 1980's. As levels are beaten, the years pass. You win once you reach year 2055. The environments and technology will change too. There are over one thousand options for transportation, so while gameplay is simple, there are a ton of possibilities. This blend of simplicity and detail makes Switchcars an interesting subject to critique.

At first play, I immediately thought of those time wasters I played back when I was in school.

Those good ‘ole fashioned ones you played right in your browser. The controls felt just like them--you only need less than ten keys to play. The graphics were also pixelated art, giving me another boost to the nostalgia factor. It certainly was a mindless experience too, which can be good, but in this case I am not so sure. Many of the reviews I read on the Steam page use the word “addictive,” I did not get that feeling, but I am in the minority. While easy to get into, Switchcars did not have staying power for me. It was fun for short bursts, but anything more than thirty minutes started becoming work. The first five minutes plays much like your last five. For something where the controls and objective are so simple, it gets boring. I was often hypnotized by pressing arrow keys for long stretches, staring at the screen, and not taking anything in. A mindless experience, but not in the positive sense.

Feelings aside, AltFuture did a great job being attentive to detail. Obstacles and vehicles are endlessly unique and have their own characteristics. Many kinds of terrain and items force you to use all the given options. While you are pressing the right arrow to move forward the whole time, there is a method to all this madness, especially when time runs out and the worm starts chasing you. Chaos ensues and quick-thinking can either save you miraculously, or crash you violently. These moments are fun, but if you keep dying it gets frustrating.

Switchcars was a quick time-killer for me, but nothing more than that. Other players claim differently, and I can see why: it is fast-paced and requires quick thinking, yet the objective is so simple… I just happened to get bored of it. There are enough chaotic moments that can justify long stretches of playtime. For a quick fix, I would say try this out; but wait--this is the point of the review where I tell you how much it costs. Spoiler alert: it is nine dollars. Ouch.


The Verdict

I do not feel confident telling someone to drop nine dollars on something they can easily NOT play thirty minutes on. Switchcars will be something one either loves or hates, so I would wait till this comes on sale before purchasing. While fun in short increments, the “buyer beware” warnings are just too much for me to personally give this a high score.

Alex Mallardi
Written by
Friday, 18 March 2016 00:00
Published in Action



AJ Mallardi has been playing console and PC games since he was 4 years old, and he has a degree in Mass Communications. Originally from the Philadelphia area, and presently in Nashville, with stops in Seattle and York, Pennsylvania, his life has taken him quite a few places. Currently he works 4 jobs: warehouse work, bartender, journalist for House Of Hearts, and OP Noobs (duh!); with the aspirations of being on television one day.

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