Had An Accident At Work? Call 1-800 CRASH: Autodrive

Sharing an A.I. controlled can with three strangers, an accident occurs and a cyclist is killed. Coincidence? Find out in CRASH: Autodrive on the Nintendo Switch.

CRASH: Autodrive (in uppercase), is a murder mystery visual novel slash (heh) point and click investigation. That’s a couple of genres all rolled in one, but it’s true, Your Honour – it’s not just a visual novel, and you’ll interact with stuff.

You play the character Emily – a college drop-out trying to make ends meet by doing several jobs. On the day we take control of her busy life, she’s riding in one of those autocabs (we don’t know about them yet as this is sent in a futuristic Pittsburgh) with three other people.

Minding their own business, the cab comes to a halt after an apparent collision. On careful inspection, i.e. looking under the wheels, the A.I. controlled cab has run over a cyclist, instantly killing them. Accidents happen, as tragic as they are, but there’s something iffy about this scenario.

CRASH: Autodrive Review

First of all, upon inspecting the body in lieu of the police, Emily identifies the victim as her old boss Thomas Sinclair – whom she holds responsible for her epic falling from the food chain to the point where she’s financially struggling. She also believes her firing was the eventual demise of her cat.

CRASH Autodrive coming to Switch this month
Source: PR

As the story develops, the other passengers knew the victim, and each had been shafted by Thomas somehow, leading to a motive. To add a cherry on top, the A.I. is somehow connected to Thomas too, and may or may not have gone rogue.

Cue some investigative work by Emily as she takes on the task of interrogating the other passengers, looking for clues and trying to make sense of the situation. We can either move the cursor about to interact or use the touchscreen through the CRASH: Autodrive Switch version and the general feel of the game is pretty cool.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Everything is text-based, with a rather annoying droll from some of the characters when they speak. As for the art style, it’s very good. I love the illustrations and the often melodramatic expressions and poses each character performs on each revelation – there’s a lot.

We get a brief insight into the main four characters and the victim – enough to build a big enough picture and start working on our gut instincts on who the perpetrator is. Unfortunately, there’s not much scope to go off the beaten track, and there didn’t appear to be any additional endings. 

CRASH Autodrive Switch Review - Papers
It’s in the papers, so it’s true. Source: Nintendo

CRASH: Autodrive’s narrative counters that a little, however, as it constantly keeps you guessing, as if Emily has a doctorate in Zen Buddhism with her constant contradictions. She’ll reveal a damning clue at one point, then completely counter it, forcing you to doubt your predictions throughout. It’s a minor annoyance as it doesn’t commit to one way of thinking, but essentially it’s a good mechanic as you’ll remain engaged for the relatively brief playtime.

You Did What?!?! Oh, Ok – I Forgive You

Measuring the time it takes to complete a game is as subjective as a review score, and everyone will be different. It took me approximately a week to go through this in bytesize sessions, so the game felt longer than perhaps anticipated, but this is a good thing.

There isn’t any voice acting in the game; instead, an upbeat series of tracks which I liked, but felt that the tempo didn’t suit the pace of the game. Perhaps that’s based on the speed I played, admiring the writing, visuals, and second-guessing the culprit(s).

My beef with CRASH: Autodrive was the flippant way it concluded. In a slightly out of character moment, I got irritated with the way Emily responded to the penultimate scene and was desperate for the option to derail where it was heading. It was almost like going on a killing spree in GTARustler or Glitchpunk, and instead of being arrested, simply saying sorry. The powers that be look at the atrocities you’ve committed and then say, “Ok [smiley face]”. It didn’t add up, and it spoiled the outcome for me – without giving any spoilers.

Epilogue

Does that make CRASH: Autodrive a game to avoid? Absolutely not! That’s just my opinion. It just felt a little blas√©, and considering the game’s events, it felt like a The Lego Movie-type ending, with hints of Scooby-Doo. It’s a feel-good experience throughout, other than my slight whinge, and will say it’s one of the more enjoyable visual novels (if I’m allowed to say that) that I’ve played.

CRASH Autodrive Switch Review - Hacker
Hacker. Source: Nintendo

The story somehow manages to cram loads of details about each character without it being a paint-by-numbers Hollywood account like “Yeah, you must be mad still that your parents died in that car crash 20 years ago and your half brother went bad and is now in jail. That’s why you became a cop”. The protagonist knows this, but the audience doesn’t. CRASH: Autodrive doesn’t do this and can help create an image in your head when characters reminisce about their past and connection to Thomas.

And once again, like Blake: The Visual Novel, presentation is important. I noted a list of resources used for the game, and it looks all very indie, yet the finished article feels much more accomplished than similar titles. Maybe this is to do with David Shaver, Studio Nightcap, and his expertise working on triple-A titles. Regardless, it’s a story well worth seeking out, and I’d be interested in how others feel about the conclusion.

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