There was a time where point-and-click adventure games reigned supreme. Now although they still manage to draw a crowd, their youthful narrative cousins have taken center stage. Gaining popularity from companies like the late Telltale Games, this new type of adventure game blends point-and-click with visual novel style gameplay. Titles such as The Walking Dead and Firewatch make this category shine brightly to those who prefer storytelling over gameplay. Another attempt to take a stab at it comes in the form of Hitchhiker, a mystery game with thriller elements. Ride shotgun put on the radio and try to figure out what’s going on in this seemingly calm journey.
It can be a challenge to describe the story of games that are all about the story. You want to say enough to give an idea, but even the smallest details can rob part of the experience. Still, here’s a solid attempt. You are a nameless hitchhiker going from A to B. As you attempt to make your way there, you will have to catch several rides with different drivers. Along the way, you will get embroiled in a complex web of intrigue and mystery. You’ll have to talk to each driver and carefully observe your surroundings if you’re going to have any chance of putting the pieces together.
One of the best ways to pass the time is through conversation. Even if you’re with someone not particularly talkative, you can always swap stories. The Hitchhiker does a good job of recreating the classic American road trip. You’re sitting in a car driving down what feels like an endless road with a perfect stranger. By inserting yourself as the protagonist, the story is able to emphasize each driver. They all have varying personalities and attitudes that change as their individual journeys progress. You get to see and hear as they change from one tone to the next which also serves to convey the story.
The game manages to combine serenity with intensity through its presentation. It’s like soaking in a hot tub where every now and then Metallica blasts through for a few seconds. However, most of the tense moments aren’t that abrupt. The story knows how to do build up well with many of the major transitions coming through casually. It essentially makes use of the double-take and relies on players to pay attention. You can’t let the scenic breaks lull you into a false sense of security.
When you go on such a long trip, it’s highly doubtful that it’ll be smooth the whole way. Weather changes, roads twist and you encounter unsavory characters. The Hitchhiker has some rough moments that aren’t intentional to the story. First off, it’s very restrictive. Almost every scene takes place from a static position where all you can do is look around. For some scenes, there’s plenty to distract you and for others, it’s hard just to stay awake. The drivers are easily the most interesting part, but when they’re not talking, they may as well be wax figures.
Another is the technical aspect of the whole thing. When the main thing you do is look at stuff, it helps when the stuff doesn’t fall apart. There are times when scenery blinks out of existence and one driver specifically has some seaming problems. There are times when textures don’t render properly and some of the environmental objects look very unnatural. While you could argue that all that serves the surrealism of the story, there are issues there too. It’s not the easiest to follow and trying to plot it out will look like a red-string conspiracy board.
End of the Road
Hitchhiker comes to us from Mad About Pandas and is available on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Apple Arcade, and PC. It’s a surreal-mystery-thriller about a stranger remembering where they came from and where they’re going. If you can get past the technical and limiting issues there’s an interesting and somewhat relaxing experience to be had. Grab your trusty backpack and get on the road again.
TechRaptor reviewed Hitchhiker on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and iOS devices.
- Interesting and Fleshed Out Characters
- An Interesting Storyline
- Appealing Surreal Imagery
- Limited Exploration Space
- Little Interaction and Activity
- Hard to Miss Technical Issues