I am not sure what the target demographic for Totally Reliable Delivery Service was. I also don’t know what I was expecting from it. Well I do, but I know I was likely wrong to have the expectation I did.
When you see trailers for the game and even first get your hands on it, you’re expecting a game that is simply Human Fall Flat. But with a slight variation to gameplay. Unfair? Maybe so, but it is what it is/
It has pretty much a similar idea, whereby you control a character and independently take charge of its arms. One button to left an arm, another to grip. Then two others for the same on the other arm. Using this along with the analogue stick to move throughout the world and compete tasks.
It is a similar setup to Human Fall Flat. However this time your role is to make increasingly difficult deliveries from check point to check point. All set within a semi open world environment. The idea is sound for sure, but something seriously doesn’t feel right.
Totally Reliable Delivery Service feels like it is going more for a ‘LOL Random’ approach, akin to what you’d see in a Goat Simulator and I admit at points this can be really fun and I will come to that a bit later.
Where Human Fall Flat feels tightly designed, with movement and controls that are built from the ground up to work within that games mechanics and environments, it seems Totally Reliable Delivery Service is the opposite. The controls are almost at odds with the tasks you are set and often when I failed a mission I could blame the way it plays and not my own ineptitude.
I even had a few tasks that I completed, but didn’t get credit for because the game glitched and my character was still registered as holding the package, with no way to release and no way of moving on. Thus forcing me to restart and do the task all over again.
It wasn’t bad on a couple of early tasks, as they were pretty simple to redo, it was very frustrating though on a task that had taken me an age to get through only to need to start again. Now this is clearly something that can be fixed in a patch and I won’t hold it against the game too much.
Playing solo is not where this game works. Some of the tasks require a fair amount of travel and on your own it becomes an arduous task. This is despite some nice touches, such as controlling vehicles, or the water gushes from man-hole covers when you go over them. It just isn’t a fun game on your lonesome.
As a bit of a PSA too, I am playing this on a Switch and it is nigh on horrible to play handheld. Not because of the frame-rate or anything like that, it comes from the main arm controls being on ZL, ZR, L and R. It just didn’t work at all and my hands began to hurt fighting them. However, this improved ten-fold when using a Pro-Controller docked or in tabletop mode. It was night and day how much better it was to control.
Now whilst I had many issues on my own and got bored. I gave this another chance and played with my kids. Immediately things were different. The game still lacks the tightness and clever design of a Human Fall Flat, but it suddenly became fun.
We were trying to work together, trying to sabotage each other and generally just messing about. Not caring too much about the tasks at hand. Kids were having a wonderful time, which in turn meant I enjoyed this much more.
My eldest was being a bit of an idiot (to put it nicely) and my youngest thought this to be the funniest thing ever. Which of course meant he’d do it more, which would cause more laughter. This would repeat many times in a play session.
Now eventually they got a bit bored and moved on to other things. They are kids after all. But a second session a couple of days later produced equal amounts of fun and joy.
Totally Reliable Delivery Service is a mess of a game and there are so, so many QoL improvements that could and should be made. That being said, the kids didn’t care about how janky it was. They had a great time with it and for me that is all that matters. Not every game has to be a masterpiece and they certainly don’t have to impress everyone. But I started out not knowing who the target demographic was… Well I found out in the end.