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Home Road Trip ‘Pacific Drive’ is a deadly and mysterious road trip with great tunes 

‘Pacific Drive’ is a deadly and mysterious road trip with great tunes 

by Staff
Pacific Drive is a brand new video game released by Ironwood Studios. Pacific Drive is Ironwood Studios’ first game, but a good size of the video game community was excited for its release. Illustration by Haleigh Schmidt/The Daily Campus

Developed by Ironwood Studios, Pacific Drive was released on Feb. 22 on Playstation and PC. Being Ironwood Studios’ first game, its presence was unexpected, but due to the successful demo and open communication with potential fans, they were able to get a sizable community excited for the release of the game. In addition, “Pacific Drive” was published by Kepler Interactive, who has made a presence in the last few years by helping release unique and well made indie games that have taken off to impressive degrees. 

Pacific Drive is a game where you start off as a delivery driver for a company called ARDA. During the job you are transported into a hazardous forest. After finding a scrappy car in a shed, you have no choice but to enter it for safety. Greeted by two voices over the car radio calling themselves Francis and Tobias, you are given no choice but to listen to them to survive. After reaching a temporary base of operations, you meet another character, Oppy, and the game’s cycle begins. 

The simple idea is that you must explore zones laid out before you on a projector map, by doing so you gain access to farther lands by exploring the closer areas first — with some landmark spots mixed around the map too. The objective is to gather materials and documents left behind by the people who used to live in a town that is within the Olympic Exclusion Zone where the game takes place. This zone is the result of a failed government plan of getting a town near the ARDA facility to experience a new technology under supervision. 

Similar to the gameplay of Raft and The Long Drive, you must scavenge and collect parts from the surroundings to improve your vehicle. Researching better parts allows you to craft them for better protection against the dangerous environment around you. One of the more impressive aspects of “Pacific Drive” is the variety in the upgrades: some are simple and have been done before, while others are unique to the game and its creatively designed hazards. These hazards can range from malicious debris to explosive dummies that appear out of nowhere.  

The game lasts around 20 hours, creating an immersive driving experience with a lot of fun gimmicks and niche design details that make me appreciate the game more. One rare detail about the car I found to be well implemented was the functioning mirrors. While most racing/driving games don’t make mirrors very clear or usable, Pacific Drive helps you watch out for dangers from whichever angle they might decide to approach you from. Another fun activity is customizing your car with paint and other accessories you find in the zone. It’s rewarding to personalize the vehicle before riding off into another road trip. To accompany you during trips, the in-game radio comes with many music tracks specially made for the game that make it all the more enjoyable. 

While “Pacific Drive” did initially release with some minor issues and bugs, the developers have been working since to fix all of the problems a player might come across. Having released three updates already, they’re improving the experience for all.  

One amusing thing about the game is how easily it could have been turned into a horror game. With terrifying ambient noises and dark environments, the game doesn’t directly try to scare you, but cleverly uses the atmosphere to make you feel uncomfortable. This only builds upon the feeling of urgency that you have to get out of the zone as soon as possible. 

While the gameplay loop does eventually get boring like most survival games, the developers have clearly done a lot in terms of trying to cut down on the unnecessary design choices some other games have done. In addition, if you simply decide to follow the story to the end without caring for much else, you can speed through the game, as it lets you explore wherever you wish if you have the locations accessible. “Pacific Drive” is definitely my favorite survival game to come out in a long time. It’s great to see that Ironwood Studios was able to bring back a sense of freshness into the genre. 

Rating: 4/5 

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