Heading Out Review (PC)

Just feast your eyes, bless your ears and move on.

Heading Out Review
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Heading Out was a title that I was very excited to review simply because I had never seen anything quite like it. It appealed to the racing fan in me and felt like a title that was the developer’s medium to take risks in certain areas and play it safe in others. A roguelite title about a road trip, the game allows you to pick your poison before you rev the engine.  You create an impressive backstory for your character, but the title also feels unpolished and hurried in some places.

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Heading Out is now available for PC on Steam at a 10% discount.

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Racing titles come and go. We have sims, arcades, and simcades, all fantastic subgenres. But while I was excited to try Heading Out by Serious Sim, I had zero idea what I was getting into. But excitement faded within the first 2 hours of my playthrough.

The game begins at a point that looks pretty disoriented with its marketing. While the trailer sets up it to be a title connected to reality, grounded but ambitious, the narrative that the game offers will make you go, ‘Uhm, okay? But that doesn’t make sense?’ but the bigger question is: is it even supposed to?

Living Life a Quarter-Mile at a Time

It's a long, long road to discover in Heading Out.
It’s a long, long road to discover in Heading Out.

As I stated, Heading Out begins with you making choices and defining the rumors the public will hear about your character. But then, an unexpected twist comes when you establish a backstory. The only idea you get of the game world is that it isn’t the world you know and love. The game’s set in the recent past when your choice of radio stations defined road trips and tape recorders used to reign undisputed.

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Now, in the cinematic and the game overall, the most impressive thing is its art style. The game looks gorgeous with comic book-inspired shaders, mostly monochrome color palettes, and a sequential art style. Soon after, you get on the road, and the game’s goosebumps-inducing soundtrack hits you. You learn the ropes and then make your first choice in the game.

You discover the game’s map, where you will be for quite some time. Now, this is where I think the game design falters. It is incredibly dull getting from point A to point B with a beacon representing your car on the vast map. Your destination is known, and you must dodge many obstacles, factors in your car condition, and fatigue to not fail the game.

The minimal traversal and getting from one point of interest to another in the game is dull.
The minimal traversal and getting from one point of interest to another in the game is dull.

You indulge in choices, listen to broadcasts, and race people to get to the final boss in an endless loop. Now, here is my biggest complaint:. During the gameplay, you don’t feel the motivation to continue playing. There is no incentive to continue or try again; the feedback loop lacks meaningful rewards.

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Very Overdriven but Incredibly Underwhelming

Yes, I know, Mary, I have heard it over 10 times now.
I know, Mary; I have heard it over ten times now.

It seems like the game makers focused more on aesthetics and charm than the game design; the game promises and tries very hard to be a roguelike, but at times, you can feel the game is in a severe identity crisis.

The characters in Heading Out who you encounter while racing have the same quips, which, after a point, sound lazy. Out of the ten or so races I won, in almost 7 of them, my opponent crashed into the traffic, giving me an easy win, which is just terrible AI. Unlike another game I reviewed recently, the choices marketed to carry weight seem to matter very little.

Also, before you begin the Heading Out, you’re told that the radio broadcasts will play a massive role. But they are nothing more than placeholders, just repeating your actions. The driving experience is decent, with the roads having much unpredictability. The car’s engine, however, doesn’t accelerate like a typical sim-cade and, especially in the 4th gear, feels sluggish.

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Is Heading Out Good?

The choices seem to matter less and less, the further I go.
The choices seem to matter less and less the further I go.

The only good thing about the game is that it tries to experiment, but it gets plenty wrong. The amount of times I rested my head against my palm, underwhelmed, was five times too many. In summary, while Heading Out is the perfect example of all that glitters isn’t gold.

But it doesn’t shine in any particular area apart from the art style and the soundtrack. It feels like it lacks the oomph factor marketed in its trailer. A good attempt but needs a lot more content to be worth your hard-earned money. For now, you are better off passing on it. It is unpolished and lacks substance.

4/10

 

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Written by Sparsh Jaimini

Articles Published: 340

Sparsh Jaimini Sharma is a video games enthusiast and a Games Writer. A true white-blooded Madridsta. He is often seen grinding away at EAFC 24's Ultimate team and learning to code when he is not writing. A Batman fan and Arkham Games connoisseur. He is the quintessential DC aficionado.