Game Reviews

The Drive: Devil's Run

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The Drive: Devil's Run

There are few things I hate more than ragging on devs within reviews. I've worked on a lot of games.

I know how much hard work they are for a team, let alone for a one-man-band like POLYGAMe Digital. But The Drive: Devil's Run really isn't good.

It's a time-attack racing game that feels like it could someday become a half-decent student project, but it's seriously sub-par when viewed through pretty much any other lens.

A self-confessed love letter to some of the earliest entries in the Need for Speed and Test Drive franchises, The Drive: Devil's Run sees you pick one of five cars and attempt to complete three courses as quickly as possible.

Sporting a cel-shaded look, you drive through what appears to be a motorway found behind Sonic The Hedgehog's Green Hill Zone, made up of golden valleys topped off with bright green grass.

Car toons

Rather than the fast-paced lighthearted action such a visual choice would signify, gameplay here is strictly dry and sensible, and totally at odds with the game's upbeat audiovisual style.

You'll drive through tunnels, and along cliff edges that look out onto nothing at all, whilst sporadically dodging a handful of AI drivers also making this perilous commute.

To start with you pick a car. At the beginner end of the spectrum, you have what appears to be Mr. Bean's green Mini - painfully, drearily slow, but manageable.

The four other vehicles on offer each evoke classic sports cars in all but name, with each one progressively faster than the last, acting as the game's difficulty levels.

You then have five attempts to make it through the game's meagre course selection. You'll lose one of your five lives if you collide with just about anything - each car is apparently made out of eggshells.

This approach enforces a sniff of tension, mind, since grazing any surface faster than 10 miles per hour stops you dead in your tracks, your windscreen shattering in a nod to Test Drive.

And although the mid-course checkpoints are fair, crashing a further four times means you'll have to start all over again from the first course. And you really won't want to.

The past and the spurious

Honestly, it's really unfortunate. At a glance, the game looks nice. It's got an endearing soundtrack, all slap-bass and chiptune flourishes among its arcade-like loops.

But the more you listen, the more you realise just how much of the heavy lifting the upbeat audio is having to do, trying to convince you of the excitement of the situation… your car trundles along an incredibly sparse environment… occasionally passing other cars… sometimes turning slightly…

All in all, it makes for a dull and unrewarding driving experience. And it seriously, genuinely pains me to have to be so brutal.

But like most bangers, The Drive: Devil's Run could be a fixer-upper via sensible updates.

If the course design and layout were more compelling, if the game ran faster and if the cars handled like, I don't know cars, maybe, then perhaps something could be salvaged here.

As it is now though, unless I'm missing something fundamental about the game's intended appeal, The Drive: Devil's Run just isn't fun, and certainly can't be recommended.

The Drive: Devil's Run

Like driving a milk float through treacle with occasional bricks to steer past, The Drive: Devil's Run isn't fast, but it might make you furious
Giles Armstrong
Giles Armstrong
Having worked in the games industry since 2007, Giles knows a thing or two about how good video games are made, why bad games happen, and that great games matter. A Game & Narrative Designer by day, story-based games are quite literally his bread and butter.