American Fugitive (XB1) Review

Crime doesn’t pay.

American Fugitive wears its inspirations like a badge of honor. Borrowing heavily from the original crime game Grand Theft Auto, this isometric crime drama is unapologetic, but that doesn’t mean it is unoriginal. Bringing its own flair and a more slow-paced take on the genre, American Fugitive manages to accomplish what it sets out to do. It focuses more on characters and narrative than most attempts and manages to toss in a few surprises along the way.

Players assume the role of Will Riley, who has been framed for the murder of his father. In a relatively brisk sequence he escapes from prison and starts to unravel who framed him and why. For lack of a better comparison the game is themed around a sort of Dukes of Hazzard, motif with plenty of southern accents and even a rival family named the McCoys. Again wearing its inspiration on its sleeve, the game leans into these ideas creating a world that is both unique and interesting in the genre.

MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, Switch, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99

There is no black and white line for Will though. While he was framed for a murder he didn’t commit, he isn’t entirely innocent. This is a game modeled after a crime simulation series. Will will do plenty of odd jobs and commit crimes in his pursuit of the truth. It’s a weird dissonance in a story about finding the truth and flat out being a criminal. Will deserves to be in jail, but that doesn’t make for a very interesting GTA clone if he isn’t stealing cars and beating people up on the regular.

American Fugitive takes place in the traditional top-down perspective, but with modern controls. Everything feels tight including melee and ranged weaponry all the way down to the arcade physics of the vehicles. The mission structure is exactly what one would imagine, with stealing cars and robbing businesses being front and center. I actually love the mechanics of robbing places. It works as sort of a grid-based mission where time plays a role. Peaking in windows to see if anyone will notice, while searching rooms leaves Will open to getting caught. It is a neat mechanic that works well for the perspective.

Wanted levels play a role and work as expected. Get caught doing crimes and the stars begin to stack up. Earn enough and the big guns come out, making it harder to avoid attention. Paint shops work to mask your vehicle, but get caught at a dead end and expect to lose that fight. American Fugitive is not an easy game, and I wound up on the wrong end of a shotgun more often than I care to admit. This game gives players the mechanics to commit the crimes without being seen, but where is the fun in that?

My biggest gripe with the game comes from the fact that it is entirely too easy to find myself on the wrong end of the wanted stars. Clipping vehicles will alert the police, and when I am trying to do even the simplest of missions I waste time avoiding the fuzz. It happens far too often and ruins otherwise neat ideas. The game is also not overly long as it is, and this feels like padding. A ten hour game that probably has about 6-8 hours of actual content.

American Fugitive is a neat take on the top-down crime drama. I like a lot of its ideas, while others hold it back. I would love to see more from this team with these ideas in mind. Clean up the padding and add fast travel and this game could really be something special. Also, give me the option to zoom the camera out a little more, as it stands it feels a little too close to avoid oncoming traffic.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Great setting
  • Love the break-in mechanics
  • Camera control would be great
  • No fast travel
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.