Heading Out Review: Out-Run Fear!

Fuel... check. Tyres... check. Best driver of all time...not quite yet. Time for a Heading Out review and making a name for yourself on Steam.

With over 228 colours for developers to pick from, Serious Sim opted for black and white in Heading Out, and what a fantastic choice. Looks aren’t everything (ask my wife), but as seen with the gorgeous Cryptmaster, black and white is the new… oh.

Slicker than Rick dipped in a jar of butter whilst donning a wetsuit made of jelly, this mix of a racing game, visual novel, choose your own adventure, and resource management game shouldn’t work – there are too many chefs! Yet, look past those scrumptious visuals, mute the soundtrack and have a sneaky-sneaky at the premise.

In Heading Out, you play as a nameless driver on an adventure to outrun Fear and escape their past as literally as possible. This is achieved by driving a rather handsome muscle car (others are unlockable), and travelling across Amer-ika – arguably the greatest location for a road trip.

From the start, you’re darting away from Fear – a prominent red mist when in the driving perspective, and a red Indiana Jones passage of time… line, as it fills the world map in an attempt to make you face your problems. You have well over 99 of them, but at least a bitch ain’t one. Or maybe it is?

Heading Out Review - Slipstream
Slipstream. Source: Steam

Heading Out is narrative-driven (no pun intended), so to complement the driving sequences, there’s a… driving force to your choices. At the start of each chapter, you choose an origin story for yourself – a lost love, friendships, or other gooey stuff. For overly sensitive gamers, which we’re not in short supply, you can randomly choose these, which will arise during the visual novel scenes. Remember: this is fictional; you aren’t the driver, and they don’t know what you did. I do.

The goal is to reach your destination without succumbing to Fear. In the car, this means driving forward, though, on the road map, it will need some planning. There are multiple routes to choose from, the obvious being the fastest route to the destination and avoiding your assailant: Fear. It’s up to you which way to go, as some will offer more in raising your fame and reputation, as well as the luxury of having a full tank (and wallet).

Pick a route, then step on the gas, and you’ll automatically move through a district, though going too fast will spawn a patrol car that can either be avoided by braking or continuing at speed and then triggering an actual car chase your control. Heading Out isn’t only about Fear, the police, or racing for money – there are plenty of ‘choose your own adventure’ sections and chill zones to restore stats or lower wanted levels. More importantly, you can listen to the fantastic music, or talk radio.

Heading Out Review - Do it
Do it! Source: Steam

Most people will spot the eye-watering visuals and grow moist in the groin if they like the black and white aesthetic, but it let’s not skim over the original music here. It’s superb. Instead of a finish line to reach, you have to get ahead by the end of a song. Not only does this feel incredibly immersive, but you appreciate the tunes or the DJs waffling on about something mostly irrelevant but entertaining.

It’s not on par with DJ Lazlow from GTA, and one voiceover was jarring – both their voice and the verbal diarrhoea delivered from their cakehole. Additionally, the first song in Heading Out started out well, but the lyrics were so cliche it felt like this would be more of a road trip of “Are we there yet? Good, switch off the radio” moment than cranking it to 11. I was wrong. After the initial song, leave it at 11.

Heading Out is a rogue-like – not so harsh in my opinion, and the multiple difficulty levels help those seeking something chilled with a good storyline or enough challenge for the boy racers who want to rip it up. While it plays brilliantly on the Steam Deck, the game crashed twice and almost bricked it. Both times were during a police chase, so I blame 5-0.

It could have done with more driving sections, as this was massively satisfying. I haven’t even touched upon the movie references (the Vanishing Point influence is very accurate), but that’s best left to your own discovery as a Jackalope through the choices you make—one of them should be to buy Heading Out

The verdict?