Pacific Drive preview: Excellent driving – if you can control it

Pacific Drive previewIronwood Studios LLC

Employing a unique driving style complete with thrilling rogue-like elements and all set within a beautiful yet deadly exclusion zone, Pacific Drive embodies a driving game like no other.

Pacific Drive is a self-proclaimed ‘Road-like’ experience where you and your trusty station wagon escape the Olympic Exclusion Zone, avoiding the intense anomalies along the way. It’s complete with challenging runs, hilarious quirks, and plenty of creativity, but will its complicated controls cause the game to stall?

At an online preview, we were given the opportunity to witness 20 minutes of gameplay for Pacific Drive including a glimpse into the crafting, missions, and home base. Needless to say, I left feeling impressed yet concerned for the game’s controls.

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Pacific DriveIronwood Studios LLC

One of the primary aspects that truly drove this game forward was its immersive visuals, sound design, and attention to detail. The gameplay saw the car being thrown about in seamless anti-gravity all while expertly driving away from an incoming storm.

Along with the visuals came a combination of intense and almost calming sound design, with little but the faint fast-paced music and the roar of your station wagon’s engine to keep you company.

However, visuals and sound design aside, my main concern was the controls of Pacific Drive. Shown during the preview, a rather complicated set of buttons pushed players to actively needing to select their wipers or the handbrake for it to engage — often causing the driver to completely look away from the chaotic scenes in front of them to actively change gears.

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Upon speaking to the developers, it was made clear that the controls are directly inspired by active driving, which could be a huge positive for lovers of such an activity, but can quickly become a frustrating hindrance for gamers looking to master the controls without learning an entirely new system.

Driving in Pacific DriveIronwood Studios LLC

Nevertheless, from the 20-minute glimpse into gameplay, I left thinking this game undoubtedly has promise. Its replayability and skill-based gameplay bring an exciting adventure every time you step out of the garage. It truly feels like car fans and lovers of driving games will be slow to tyre (get it) of the game’s combination between car management, exploration, and fast paces escapism.

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Final Thoughts

Although still early in its development phase, Pacific Drive has a full gas tank of potential and feels like an experience made by car lovers for car lovers. The premise is unique, thrilling, and feels as intense as any popular rogue-like, but the complicated controls could potentially sully the driving experience many are anticipating.