There’s a family business to save, there’s a long road trip to take, and Aunt Guu Ma isn’t happy at all. I’m late, I’m late because the trains were delayed. Guu Ma doesn’t care about that though, there could be a natural disaster and she would want me there on time. It’s okay though, I’ve apologised and Guu Ma is just a little tired ahead of the long Road to Guangdong.
For this trip I’m driving. I’m Sunny by the way, and I’m taking Guu Ma along for the ride in our beat-up yet beloved family car as we head to the restaurant I’m trying – and failing – to manage. Guu Ma knows a lot about the restaurant as she’s been managing it for years, ever since Gung Gung opened it and with it now left to me from my late Ba Ba, I’m hoping Guu Ma can help me make it a success.
What I’ve just explained to you here is the premise of one of the latest Early Access titles to arrive on Steam, a game that is due to hit Xbox One later in 2019 – Road to Guangdong. At present there are only 30-odd minutes of content to play through, but in that 30 minutes I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve learnt that Guu Ma is not a tolerant lady, I’ve learnt that the Road to Guangdong is a near silent and unoccupied road, and I’ve learnt that my beat-up family car costs me more in fuel than a Lamborghini would. Oh, and it breaks down every five minutes. Quite literally.
After a load of jibber jabber at the start of the game, and a royal telling off from Aunt Guu Ma, we are greeted with what Road to Guangdong is really about. Maintaining the family car. I’ll be honest, it’s not something I’ve ever wished for in a game, especially with my personal family car having broken down recently, but with a fond love of Car Mechanic Simulator, it’s one I’m willing to keep an eye on.
At present, the options are basic. You get in the car, check everything is running healthy by doing a visual check, popping the bonnet; that sort of thing. Once you have made sure it’s all as it should be, and you’re satisfied, you head off down the long and empty road to Guangdong. A couple of minutes in, you’ll pass the garage, and here you can buy fuel and oil, as well as new parts, repairs and make sure your car is in tip top condition. After all you’ve got a long road trip ahead.
Although there is the occasional glitch currently found here and there, the core experience is generally quite well done. The developers have managed to capture what it is they are wanting the game to be about and have certainly got a fan base they are catering too with the publishers being the same ones behind the beloved Jalopy. My problem with it all – at present – is that in my time with all that is currently available, I’ve spent more time fixing my car and filling up the oil and petrol than I have driving. And it’s already cost me my near entire $300 budget.
Of course there is a lot of time for this game to bring more into the core experience – after all, we’re in Steam Early Access – and I have no doubt that we will see plenty of content yet to come, but in this early stage, it needs to be said that if this was a real personal car, beloved family vehicle or not, most of us would have given it up for scrap already.
There is one positive for it of course. See, no matter how mechanically damaged it tends to be, it does seem to maintain a healthy radio that plays an interesting blend of tunes, with some classic oriental music going down a treat. However, in this present form, running out of petrol time after time is about as much fun as you’d find running out of petrol in real life. Give us some variation; a change in the road, some traffic, and maybe a few spanners to keep costs down, and there may be extra life in the old 4-wheeled keepsake yet!
Of course it’s not only the gameplay we should be focusing on for there is the rather beautiful art style that is a worthy comparison to a 1990’s cartoon, and the interest in seeing just what happens to the family business, but for now, the sass of Guu Ma and the unreliability of the family banger make this a journey I’m willing to wait for.
One thing that does need noting however is the distinct lack of interaction at present with the car itself. Being a game in which you spend the entire time within the confines of the vehicle, it would have been nice to see a little more interaction such as adjusting mirrors – or even the option to see through them. Maybe indicators to change lanes rather than the current option of sticking within the middle lane would be nice, or some way of improving upon the vehicle and making it personal to the player, rather than a bit of a dull and lonely road trip.
Of course, there is plenty of time for improvements to come yet, and you can be sure to find our full thoughts here when the full release rolls around onto Xbox One later in 2019. Are you intrigued to find out what’s at the end of the Road to Guangdong? Let us know in the comments below or via our usual social channels. Particularly if you’ve spent time with the game in Early Access.