Pacific Drive’s Stylish Looks Mask a Terrifying Survival Adventure

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As I veer off-road in direction of a long-abandoned gasoline station, my coronary heart skips a beat. Was that… an individual? No, I inform myself, it couldn’t be. I kill the engine. Shutting the automotive door and strolling sheepishly down the as soon as unassuming dust street, I clutch my crowbar tightly as my thoughts begins to race. Whereas I’ve spent the final half an hour fortunately scouring deserted cabins alongside the forest, this quiet summer time night time didn’t appear eerie, simply nonetheless. Now as I sneak by the bushes just some ft additional down from the place I used to be moments in the past, that sense of calm evaporates, overtaken by a creeping unease.

Once I sat right down to play Pacific Drive at WASD, I mistook it for an atmospheric strolling simulator. In actuality, Ironwood Studio’s forest opus is one thing much more sinister. Half survival sport, half narrative-led horror, you might recognise Pacific Drive as “that weird nightrider car game from E3”. But whereas the marginally beat up set of wheels took centre stage in all of the trailers, this first-person mission isn’t actually a captivating vehicle-first romp however an journey the place your automotive is the one factor preserving you from an early grave.

Pacific Drive nails the feeling of dread as you drive around, looking for clues.
Pacific Drive nails the sensation of dread as you drive round, on the lookout for clues.

Impressed by a slew of various horror novels and the people tales that whispered their means across the Pacific Northwest, this first-person journey sees you making an attempt to uncover the mysteries surrounding a very cursed wanting space of forest. Set within the as soon as idyllic surroundings of the aforementioned Pacific Northwest, you end up navigating the ever-changing risks of the Olympic Exclusion Zone, in search of shelter from its excessive climate, radiation poisoning, and a sequence of more and more inexplicable happenings, all by hiding inside your trusty four-wheeled companion. It’s a must to collect as a lot data and loot as you’ll be able to on every run to the Zone earlier than getting the hell out of there.

At first I used to be tasked with making a couple of repairs to mills throughout the zone, monitoring down the required scrap to take action, and what I initially assumed was a reasonably linear path abruptly unfolded right into a gargantuan forest. As my environment felt more and more alien, I discovered myself backing slowly in direction of my automotive’s blinking indicator lights.

The place Bloober Crew’s Blair Witch pitted the participant in opposition to supernatural horrors with a loyal Alsatian by your facet, Pacific Drive sees you type an identical bond together with your candy journey. Driving is useful but unremarkable, and an iPad-style sat-nav is used for navigation. It feels good, glancing away from the street to the map in real-time, as you try to determine your bearings and attain the following vacation spot. It’s particulars like this that make the rusty station wagon really feel like simply as vital a personality on this story as you’re, and also you’ll have to handle it.

Every run feels completely totally different and it’s on this unpredictability that I discover myself reminded of Kojima’s P.T

That is executed in a storage, which you’ll be able to arrange as a base of operations. Whenever you return from journeys to the zone you’ll be able to restore and modify the car, bettering the way it handles and making it really feel your individual. It’s additionally throughout these bits of downtime the place you put together your self, each mentally and actually, to move again into the creepy exclusion zone.

From what I’ve performed to this point, every run feels completely totally different and it’s on this unpredictability that I discover myself reminded of Kojima’s P.T. Silhouettes flicker within the darkness, piles of scrap steel transfer inexplicably in direction of you, and in case you’re actually unfortunate, you might even end up caught up within the sentient lightning zone storms, which obliterate something and every part of their path.

Not like lots of its survival friends, Pacific Drive has a robust story weaved all through. As you roam the silent outskirts on the lookout for working mills, a pair of overly talkative survivors natter away on the walkie talkie. Whereas their requests and observations initially really feel distracting, there’s a second once I stumbled upon a group of eerily-posed mannequins – the silence was ominous, and I needed these distant companions would name me again to assist ease the stress. I’m advised that as I proceed exploring, there can be solutions that designate all of those baffling occurrences, slowly revealing what went on to distort this as soon as peaceable place and the origins of the secretive ARDA organisation whose footprints are all around the eerily deserted space.

Pacific Drive additionally has a surprisingly advanced crafting system. Armed with a software named a scrapper, it makes quick work of radios and different mechanical or electrical units, stripping the once-prized possessions right down to their core components with the intention to mash collectively very important new contraptions. Lockers could be prised open, gas could be syphoned from rapidly deserted vehicles, and there’s a welcome sense of believability to how the principles of this world function, authentically promoting the eerie survivor fantasy.

It’s this quiet dedication to realism which makes it all of the extra unsettling when Pacific Drive’s supernatural occurrences rear their paranormal head. As I gleefully strip a cabin of its homeowners’ worldly possessions, a bit of rock abruptly and violently lurches into the air, earlier than dropping to earth with an almighty THUMP. It scares the life out of me, and as I brandish my trusty crowbar, I quickly realise this gravity-defying prevalence appears to be caught on some form of loop. Is that this the aftermath of a zone storm prevalence? A glitch? Or an eerie warning from the very land itself? I don’t discover out through the demo, however I need to know extra.

General, I left my quick time with Pacific Drive desirous to return. Even in WASD’s bustling conference corridor I discovered myself fully caught up within the unusual, ethereal ambiance of the Olympic Exclusion Zone. There’s greater than a whiff of Treatment Management’s ‘new weird’ aesthetic to Pacific Drive, and a satisfying sense of selection to its ever altering and constantly threatening landscapes. On paper Pacific Drive borrows from quite a few different simply identifiable video games, but every particular person gameplay component meshes collectively to create an expertise fairly in contrast to the rest. The latest determination to delay the sport to early 2024 to supply additional polish is a brilliant one too, and I can’t wait to return to this inevitably much more twisted imaginative and prescient of the Pacific Northwest, though this time, I’m not placing my crowbar down.

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