Review: Wheels of Aurelia is too much talk, not enough action

What it is:

Nintendo lists this game an “Adventure” & “Racing” game from MixedBag Srl, but it’s just straight up a visual novel.

The game is out November 2 on Switch for $9.99.

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Some people don’t like to “read” movies, so they avoid foreign films with subtitles.  I understand the argument.

Wheels of Aurelia is a prime example of why I can get behind that philosophy.

The game is boring.  There’s no sugar-coating that.  It’s a weird story laid loosely over top of a top-down driving simulator, but the driving doesn’t matter at all, and if you stop driving to read the conversations, the car will drive itself, which is proof that the driving doesn’t matter.  What’s more, you can’t crash, you have no health meter, and you can’t veer off course to the effect where it makes you start over.

Driving is just a vehicle (pun intended) for a story of a girl driving through Italy in the 1970s.  If you’re into that sort of thing, then this game is for you and you may be in a small minority.

I play video games to be entertained.  I want a challenge.  I want replayability.  I want to scream and swear at the TV because I almost had the task beat and then died at the last second.  I want the headshots and the gut punches, the customization, the ability to try it a new way the second or third time.

This game has none of that.  The story isn’t even that engaging, and I couldn’t get that far into it.

It hurts me to score a game this low because I know you can’t do something like this overnight.  It takes a handful of people quite a while to put a game together, and I’m sure they’re proud of their work.  They should be.  They accomplished something, and I respect that.  Also for that reason, I hope this game finds an audience…but it won’t be me.

Story:

I’m cheating here, because what follows is copied and pasted from Nintendo’s website because I couldn’t stomach this game long enough to understand much of what was happening.  It should be noted that the gifted writer that put these sentences together did a great job of making the game sound interesting, but unfortunately, the trailer is better than the movie:

Embark on an immersive road trip through the gritty western coast of Italy during the roaring 1970’s. Playing as Lella, a bold, spunky woman, experience the sights and sounds of a tumultuous time in Italy’s history while uncovering events from Lella’s storied past. Take the road less traveled, while meeting an unpredictable cast of dynamic characters along your journey and making detours along the way.

An interactive visual novel based on short moments in time during Lella’s travels, each playthrough ends with one of sixteen different endings based on your choices.

Controls:

Controls don’t matter.  You can speed up the car and drive it back and forth along the road, you can choose your responses to dialogue.

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Art/Animation:

The art is the coolest thing about this game.  It’s well styled and the more subdued color palette lends well to setting a somber tone for Europeans to talk about cigarettes and abortion.

Why you should play it:

I can’t help but think that this is the kind of game you would get if Hemingway had been a game designer, but if you like games that are quite a bit different than mainstream, enjoy supporting indy studios, and are big on heavily story-driven narratives, you may enjoy the game.

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Let us know what you think of Wheels of Aurelia in the comments section below!

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