Highway to the Danger Zone

Heading Out is a game about running and escaping, with the player taking on the role of a nameless driver known only as the “Interstate Jackalope” who is trying to run from this fear. Developer, Serious Sim has certainly taken an interesting approach to the racing and even roguelite genre with Heading Out, the game makes good use of its roguelike mechanics and it choose your own adventure type narrative structure.

My absolute favorite thing about Heading Out is its visual design, the game is in black and white, think like the comic turned film Sin City from back in the day. The game perfectly blends its realistic and somewhat animated approach, and masterfully uses pops of vibrant color like the ominous red sky, or a bright yellow from a road warning sign. Other games have used this feature with success but in Heading Out the developers use the various colors to highlight different aspects of gameplay in a seamless and natural feeling way.

MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox, PlayStation
Price I’d Pay: $19.99

Another area Heading Out shines brightly is the audio work, the soundtrack in this game is something special. Evoking feels of classic road movies from the 70’s the soundtrack has a nice diversity of music genres that move the atmosphere from chill to intense and everything in between. It’s the various radio personalities who really steal the show though, the narrative in game can be changed based on the players actions and lots of the consequences of these actions are presented on the radio, either good or bad. Each of the personalities shine for different reasons, but the setup of kind of making them a secondary character in this journey was really cool to me.

As I said, Heading Out is set up like a roguelite, and as such each run will always begin in the Motor City of Detroit. Players will begin by escaping the city and running from the aforementioned fear. It’s explained that the player is racing across the country to challenge the best driver in the world, it’s a simple yet common set up much like the plot of the anime Afro Samurai. The majority of the gameplay is presented on a map like screen of the United States with intersecting highways. Players will need to move from city to city on this screen, while keeping an eye on their resources such as fuel and their overall speed as breaking the law can attract unwanted attention in the form of cops.

Players will stop at cities to fill up on gas and other things for their trip, while always making sure they are ahead of the fear that is constantly chasing them. Every action, be it sleeping, gassing up or helping a stranger will move time forward and thus increase fears gain on you. Players will need to balance their needs with the encroaching fear, do you take this side objective to make a few bucks for gas even though the fear will be closer; its up to you the player to decide. Some of the in-car activities range from your typical races against random drivers, fleeing police or even navigating traffic jams.

It’s the side activities that really make Heading Out shine in my humble opinion though. As players make their way across these United States, they will run into all sorts of characters. From random hitchhikers, runaways, panicking brides and even potential superheroes. These events typically boil down to platers making a choice that will impact their stats or overall story one way or the other. This is also how players will increase their fame and reputation, with the later coming thru driving activities and the other thru the choices players make. The better these two ratings are will determine what kind of perks and encounters players have the chance of running into along their way.

I hadn’t heard anything about Heading Out before it landed in my lap for review, and I am so grateful it did. I absolutely loved the gritty, 70’s feel of the racing and multiple vehicles. And I already gushed over the awesome soundtrack and radio personalities, as a fan of the talk radio in the recent GTA games this felt right up there as far as production value, content, and laughs. Mix all those things together and you end up with one mesmerizing road trip, that fans of the genre will be glad they took.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Dripping with a visual style all its own
  • Fantastic soundtrack with a great mix of beats
  • Side stories are almost better than the main narrative
  • Some of the radio personality buts start to repeat late game
  • AI in some races can be hit or miss if it’s fair or not
Written by
Terrence spends his time going where no one has gone before mostly. But when not planning to take over the galaxy, he spends his time raising Chocobo and trying to figure out just how the sarlaac could pull Boba Fett’s ship with its engines firing FULL BLAST into it’s maw with relative ease; yet it struggled with Han Solo who was gripping *checks notes* SAND!