Welcome to Coverage Club, the weekly series where we shift our critical eye towards smaller games that deserve some attention. Each week, our editors select two titles and provide honest first impressions in the style of our full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preferences, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here.
Coverage Club providing two doubleheaders in a month filled with worthy indie games! What a treat for everyone interested in the obscure and the unusual. It doesn’t get more unusual than our first game, an FMV driving game with purposefully bad controls. After that, hit up the third in a long-running fantasy series. Check out our thoughts on Roundabout and Hero of the Kingdom III!
Covered by Ron Welch
Every now and then an indie game comes along that is so strange, so utterly bizarre in concept and execution that I feel it would be better off in an avant-garde art gallery than the Steam store. That’s the magic of Roundabout, a ridiculous driving game with a ridiculous premise.
You play Georgio, a chauffeur driving the world’s first revolving limo. The first thing you’ll notice about Georgio is that she’s a real person. Georgio’s only method of communicating is giving people blank stares.
Every mission starts and ends with a cheesy B-movie FMV (full-motion video) cutscene featuring a colorful cast of characters. It’s wonderfully low budget, with most scenes taking place in the car, but that’s what makes it so charming. Roundabout is a 70s B-movie with driving challenges between dialogue scenes.
Roundabout proudly stands hand-in-hand with Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread in the “puzzle game with bad controls” genre. Your limo revolves like a board game spinner. Your goal is to navigate roundabouts, streets, construction sites, and rooftops without blowing yourself up. Along the way, you’ll splatter screaming pedestrians, cause millions in property damage, and unlock limo superpowers, like the spinning jump.
Driving a spinning rectangle through suburbia could have been extremely frustrating. Thankfully, Roundabout follows the Super Meat Boy philosophy of getting you back in the game as soon as possible. Roundabout can be challenging, but it never feels intimidating. It’s a “just right” sort of difficulty, with puzzles always building on what came before. There are also time trials and no-death challenges for those wanting a little more.
Roundabout is extremely accommodating for all skill levels. If you don’t feel like doing a no-hit challenge, you can explore the open-world, finding minigames, collectibles, and limo customizations. Have you ever wanted to play baseball with a limo? Have you ever wanted to enter a demolition derby with a limo? Most importantly, have you ever wanted to play Penn & Teller’s Desert Bus? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should play Roundabout.
It’s strange to see a surrealist game where everything goes so smoothly. Each challenge builds on the last without feeling frustrating. Georgio’s journey from simple chauffer to FBI’s most wanted made me want to finish every mission, just to watch the cutscenes. Roundabout is the perfect storm of bizarre concept, cheesy execution, and fun game design.
TechRaptor covered Roundabout on PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the reviewer
Hero of the Kingdom III
Covered by Courtney Ehrenhofler
Doesn’t everyone want to save a fantasy kingdom from a menacing threat and be praised as the hero? I’m pretty sure it’s half the reason Lord of the Rings is so perennially popular. Hero of the Kingdom III, the latest entry in the eponymous series by Lonely Troops, continues the loyal tradition of allowing players to live out their daydreams.
As implied by the generic name, the plot and characters are fairly generic, but that’s not actually a bad thing. While some other characters do get names, no one really has plot development or character growth, even the protagonist. Normally I’d say that makes a boring game, but in this case, it actually works. Playing off the generic fantasy formula, Hero of the Kingdom III works on the usual fantasy tropes that you know and love, gallant heroes, evil menaces, beautiful princesses and all that sort of thing.
If you’ve played either of the two previous games, you’ll have a pretty good handle on the gameplay going in, as it stays much the same. For those who jump in unfamiliar, there’s lots of pointing and clicking involved. You start out the game doing some pretty basic tasks for fellow villagers, hunting small animals (by clicking on them), collecting items from the scenery (by clicking on them) and fetch quests (by having the right items in your inventory and then, you guessed it, clicking to deliver them). There’s a lot of clicking, but there are so many different activities you have to do to progress through the story that it stops it feeling stagnant and like you’re just playing an idle clicker game. There is some strategy involved as you work through to beat each mission.
The art is absolutely beautiful, and each screen offers a lush variety of activities, things to collect and monsters to fight or people to talk to. Unfortunately, none of the screens come with a zoom button and it’s a lot to take in, causing quite a bit of eyestrain if you’ve been sent on a quest to scour for eggs or gold or find yourself in desperate need of collectibles.
Much like its predecessors, Hero of the Kingdom III offers a fun fantasy experience, that doesn’t require too much thinking or strategizing. While the format could definitely benefit from a zoom button, it’s still a great diversion for those not looking to wrap themselves up in an enthralling plot for the next 40+ hours of life.
TechRaptor covered Hero of the Kingdom III on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer