It’s the early 90’s, and Mr. Gorbachev has torn down that wall! With the world open to you, where will you go? More importantly, what piece of junk car will get you there?
Why, the classic Laika 601 Deluxe of course! Look at her, ain’t she a beaut?
Well, it turns out she handles horribly and overheats at the drop of a hat. Too bad it’s the only choice you have to take you through the former Communist states of Eastern and Central Europe. That’s the concept behind the newest game from indie developer Minskworks. Jalopy is an indie simulation adventure game that involves you doing your best to prevent your car from falling apart.
At first, this terrified me, since my only knowledge about cars is that I have one. That’s about it. Fortunately, my ineptitude with cars doesn’t prevent me from having a lot of fun with Jalopy‘s money management and decision-making gameplay. You start the game with $100 dollars, a beat up junk-heap of a car, an uncle who complains every time you go above 35 miles per hour, and a dream.
Sure, you start out with a dilapidated deathtrap, but as the game progresses you’ll have opportunities to upgrade to something you can actually call a car. There are tons of little pieces to the car that can be installed, and what you find will vary from adventure to adventure since there are multiple pathways to choose from. Each time I have restarted the game, the choices have been different.
The above video shows my first excursion out of the family junkyard and the uncle’s tutorial regarding the care and maintenance of your newly acquired Laika. Once you’ve hit the Autobahn, the world becomes your playground.
I’ve attempted to reach the first checkpoint with varying degrees of success since that video. On my first try, I reached a small town before my car gave up, spinning into a wall I found it hard to extricate myself from. My second attempt ended with me locked inside of a gas station with an attendant who I can only describe as a faceless soul-eating harpy who refused to open her gates to allow me to leave her establishment. Some say I’m still stuck there to this day.
My third and fourth attempts went much better. I was able to reach the point where I was able to choose the next direction I’d want to go on the map. Upon making the aforementioned choice, however, my car which I had been neglecting in favor of reaching the checkpoint coughed and sputtered, spun out on the highway and made me cause a traffic jam. My final attempt ended with my uncle being bisected by a ramp I tried to jump.
Let’s get to the skinny on this game.
What We Loved About it
This game shows a lot of promise as something that streamers will pick up immediately and have fun with. The car feels like a hunk of junk, which is exactly as advertised! The world is perpetually changing and opens the player up to a sense of adventure I haven’t experienced in gaming since Minecraft. The concept of upgrading the car, despite the fact I was never good enough to get that far, sounds like a lot of fun. Almost EVERYTHING in the car is interactable. You can turn on the radio, adjust your mirrors, hit the emergency lights, and even pop the cigarette lighter.
What We’d Love to See More Of:
Since this game is an alpha, there are a lot of things that I feel will most likely be added since they are mentioned in some way or another through the game’s user manual provided with the car. Even though you can adjust your mirrors, they don’t reflect anything. Since there’s even an in-game option for the car mirrors, I’m sure this will be added closer to the game’s release. Rain seems to have little effect on your visibility right now, but there are windshield wipers, so I’m guessing that won’t always be the case. Also, will someone please tell me how to escape this gas station prison? The gates are locked, and no one can hear my screams.
The game will launch their early access on April 14th, meaning you won’t have to wait long before you too can simulate the experience of disappointing your uncle as you watch your engine sputter its last breath in the German country-side.