It’s my first official review! I’ve decided not to review games with a score. I believe that these numbers can and will change over time. I feel that it is my job to give you as much info as I can. A quick number value won’t suffice. Other disclaimers include the fact that I am mostly blind, so some things I have trouble with may not be a problem for you, and the fact that the game was provided to me for free with no stipulations for this review. The game releases on August 28th for several different platforms.
On to the game! I spent about 8 hours playing through the game, which was enough to complete the story and replay one mission. You play Sunny, a recent art school grad, that inherits your family’s restaurant. With the help of your Guu Ma, aka aunt, you use the restaurant’s car, Sandy, to visit with your relatives and collect their secret family recipes. There in no voice overs, but I found the text box size and contrast good enough to read comfortably. The art style is bright and colorful which helped with seeing everything well. After I discovered how to turn on the headlights, I could even see well enough to drive at night!
It is split into two distinct modes. The first is the missions. Each mission corresponds to a different family member and their recipe. Yu complete what I call conversation puzzles to get their blessing and be awarded their recipe. There is a lot of dialog options that can lead to different decisions on how to accomplish this. These missions break up the game into well defined bite size pieces, especially useful if you are short on time and as a way to track progress.
The other part is the traveling between locations. This involves careful driving and constant car maintenance through replacing and repairing several different parts. While driving, you must keep your eye on three different gauges: fuel, oil, and temperature. Keeping these out of the red is important to the overall health of your car. The roads are procedurally generated from different types of terrain with a number of garages and scrap piles placed at varying intervals.
These roadside stops have random items and even costs differ at garages. Although the roads can get repetitive, you never know when or what you will find at a stop. Guu Ma has some stories to tell while traveling, but will start repeating them fairly quickly. There is only a few songs on a couple of radio stations, so that can get old as well. The day/night cycles helps some to break up the monotony too.
Overall, I would describe the game as having a big heart. From the devs making changes after early access feedback, to the characters, and the story of the importance of family, you can feel the love in the game. I was heartbroken when I failed a mission, leaving with no recipe and a family member that wouldn’t visit the restaurant. The difficulty isn’t too bad, even though there isn’t a proper tutorial.
The conversation puzzles aren’t hard to find a solution, even though it may not be the correct one. As long as you keep checking on the state of the car, you will be given plenty of warning anytime something needs to be fixed. The characters and story are engaging for the game’s length though replayibility is low. I enjoyed all of the different missions but found the driving half of the game tedious and somewhat repetitive.
In the end, I enjoyed playing through it and found the length as well as difficulty adequate even though some portions became repetitive. I don’t think I would want to replay it again without updates to the choices or added missions. I wish there was more to do with the restaurant after reopening, it almost feels like a prequel to a game that doesn’t exist. I also think I learned a lot about Chinese culture and the importance of food in it during my short time playing. If you are a fan of indie stories or the thought of playing a survival game with a car, then this game is for you!