Hitchhiker A Mystery Game, which we’ll use to avoid confusion with board games or Rutger Hauer movies, is a 100% narrative-driven experience that relies more on narrative devices than player interaction.

You’re essentially here for the ride, as is our protagonist. Almost awakening as a passenger after apparently hitching a lift, Hitchhiker A Mystery Game from Mad About Pandas and Versus Evil, is a walking simulator, albeit in a car that you have no control over.

There’s nothing wrong with being a spectactor if the content is good – think Before Your Eyes, and it’s simply a case of making yourself comfortable and assimilating everything thrown at you. It takes a few minutes of jumping through hoops, and it’s apparent that this is going to be a NeoCab experience, but without the drama.

Listening to Vern yack away about raisins doesn’t put you to sleep as could be expected; instead, you almost hang on to every word that he says. Vern is just one of the drivers you ride with over this five-chapter story, and it’s fair to say that there’s not a single weak link in the voice talent. Hitchhiker A Mystery Game has one of the best casts in a game of late.

Hitchhiker A Mystery Game - Uncle Vern
Uncle Vern. Source: Screen capture

We need to want to listen to these characters as there’s not that much to do. For the bulk of the game, you’re restricted to a passenger seat, and if you aren’t sitting in a car, you’re sedentary somewhere else, only able to look around and interact with whatever is in your peripheral vision.

Though Vern is the uncle you never realised you needed in your life, Hitchhiker A Mystery Game was coming across as a caged Firewatch. Using this as a comparison, it shares the same visual candy – the character models and environments are beautiful, and in most of the chapters, there is the option to ‘take a break’ and look around at the scenery. Believe it or not, you’ll be taking that opportunity – there’s no rush.

Firewatch kicked into gear when you first encounter those teens, that if you have an active imagination, you’d have filled your pants. Wait, don’t overthink that sentence. The narrative here, as nice as it is, is slow, and there was no urgency. However, as can be expected, a little storytelling spanner drops at your feet and the hairs on the back of your neck raise, firing off all these possibilities where the story could go.

Without spoiling it, your character is suffering from a bout of amnesia. He pieces the parts together through his interactions with the drivers and the objects within his immediate vicinity. In short, he’s looking for someone. If you want to know more about that, play the game, but don’t watch a playthrough first – it’ll spoil it.

Hitchhiker A Mystery Game - Robots in disguise
Robots in disguise. Source: Screen capture

Cue some wonderful allegories, and by the tenth minute, you’re hooked. For me, that meant sitting through all chapters, clinging on to every word, looking for every hint which would indefinitely lead to a new revelation. By the second driver, that was it; it was paint by numbers, albeit good ones. Having seen one too many Hitchcock films, it was clear where the story was heading, though let’s say that there were a few MacGuffins chucked in that were perfectly suited.

The downside of Hitchhiker A Mystery Game was the interactions. As you’re sitting for about 90% of the game, all you can do is look around – which in fairness is enjoyable, but the interactions are the classic ‘rotate a 3D object on its axis’. All very nice, but a little bland at times as there wasn’t any complexity on what an object’s function. Except for one puzzle involving a radio, this is an on-rails experience in that you will get the Platinum.

But let that not be the motivation for playing the game. When speaking with the drivers, you have dialogue choices, though the result tends to be the same. Again, no spoilers, but the ending I received was a little anti-climatic. After finishing the game, you can dive back into a chapter to replay, but I didn’t have the time to see it out. It wasn’t a bad ending, but hopeful of something different.

By far, the characters are the highlight, the story a close second. Wanting Vern to read me a story every bedtime, it was actually a waitress (her name escapes me) that stood out. As she goes through an incredibly existential rhetoric, I sat back and held on to every word. If only I could have reached out to eat that pickle, I’d have been there.

Hitchhiker A Mystery Game - Snap chat
Snap, chat. Source: Screen capture

On that note, this chapter appeared to be glitching, but it was a storytelling device that will be revealed should you play it, and in case it slips by, yes, you should play this. Though the scene wasn’t at fault, Hitchhiker A Mystery Game did stutter a few times, and on one occasion, fortunately after the credits, it crashed. It was when the game was saving that the frames would drop. Not game-breaking, but noticeable. This Hitchhiker A Mystery Game review was the PS4 version, played on the PS5, but regardless, it didn’t disrupt the experience.

Winding this down, Hitchhiker A Mystery Game is a fascinating game in terms of character and narrative-driven elements. As mentioned, the interactions were relatively weak. The puzzles were very easy, and locating objects even more straightforward as should you hesitate, a hint will appear on the screen. It has to be said that the intermissions of each character telling their story was superb – a different aesthetic every time – the highlight here being Ibn al-Shatir’s fantasy tale.

Hitchhiker A Mystery Game is a decent road trip with plenty of home truths that make this a compelling experience, complemented by a superb cast and some interesting ideas. Just don’t overthink the eyes, and if you have to make a gas stop, leave the raisins for the guards.