Games about cars are thin on the ground these days, and that’s a shame. Because driving games aren’t just about setting fastest laps or unlocking new spoilers – in the rarest cases they’re vehicles for unusual narratives, too. Interstate ’76 had a poetry button. The Crew had its revenge storyline. And Jalopy has a procedurally generated Eastern bloc through which to drive and maintain a spluttering Jalopy while communism makes way for capitalism. It’s a unique pitch, you’ve got to give it that.
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AsJalopy’s Steam Greenlight pageattests, the focus is just as much on car maintenance as the driving itself. You’re in charge of keeping your humbleLaika 601 Deluxe roadworthy, which means sourcing and servicing tires, carburettors, and the like.
“You’ll need to constantly adapt to whatever the procedurally generated world of Jalopy can throw at you,” read’s the game’s Greenlight page. There are changing weather conditions and driving surfaces to contend with, comprising “a whole world outside your car.”
Not that you’d know it from the game’s screenshots and trailers, all of which seem to have been dropped in a dirty puddle on the way to the Steam page. The lure of Jalopy’s pitch is considerable, and there’s probably a lot of allegory about capitalism that’s best conveyed by actually playing the game. But it needs a change in art direction. Your monitor hasn’t had to render this many shades of brown since Quake II.
Still, I remain hopeful for Jalopy, and it gets my Greenlight vote. I think there’s probably a narrative element to it all that developer Greg Pryjmachuck (who worked on Codemasters’ F1 series from 2009 to 2014) is keeping under wraps, and there’s also a suggestion of a free market trading element in addition to car upgrades. And, somewhat enigmatically, the hint that you’ll need to keep an eye on trunk space as well as mechanical wear-and-tear.
Driving game development is basically starving on PC. For years we’ve become used to a handful of new releases around which huge modding communities arise, but generally they’re officially licensed racers or simulations. Jalopy’s trying to do something different with the genre and, brown as it might be, I’m very much up for taking a road trip with it.