Home » Heading Out PC review – Fear of the park

Heading Out PC review – Fear of the park

Heading Out review driver's seat

Another driving rogue-lite this year? Heading Out arrives hot on the heels of Pacific Drive, but it was announced years ago, so any similarities are purely coincidental. The game has some very interesting concepts as it takes players on a road trip throughout the USA. It’s a fairly unique experience, albeit one whose gameplay could use significantly more depth. I find that I appreciated its ambitions more than I actually enjoyed it as a game, as the gameplay itself can often be a bit dull, with lacklustre physics and driving mechanics.

The premise is simple but kind of inane. The player character is trapped in a loop where he’s chasing after a driver across the US. All the while his fear is on his tail. It’s up to the player to catch up with and race the driver before his fear catches up with him. Along the way you’ll see a bunch of little stories, some of which are connected. It’s an interesting premise that honestly didn’t really push me forward. The whole “running from a manifestation of your fear” thing is so nebulous that I couldn’t take it seriously. I feel like something else would have made for much better motivation, but this doesn’t really affect the gameplay.

Heading Out is divided into three types of segments. The most omnipresent is that an icon is placed on a map of the US depicting your car and you have to choose your route and manage your speed. You need money for gas and you can speed if you want, but doing so can get you pulled over. All the while your fear is a certain number of hours behind you and, if you take detours or dawdle, it can catch up to you. If it does, the run is over. Similarly, if it creeps in far enough that it blocks off your exits on the map, that too will end your run prematurely.

Heading Out review USA map

During my first two runs on the default difficulty, Heading Out was quite boring. I never ran out of money or had my fear catch me. However, on the third run, it did get more demanding, which actually required me to make use of the game’s systems. Icons on the map let you know which events are where. Dollar sign icons, for instance, indicate races, but there are also little text-based sequences where you can make decisions. Your character also has individual wanted levels for each US State, plus a focus meter indicating how rested they are, and the car’s damage level. Higher wanted levels mean more cop chases, lower focus means falling asleep or having diminished vision while driving. If your car gets too damaged, you also lose a run.

To be blunt, I didn’t really care much for any of the above. It works and it’s pretty unique, but sitting and staring at icons on a big map didn’t do much for me. But Heading Out‘s actual gameplay segments didn’t either. Simply, the events are mostly a mix of extremely boring and painfully repetitive. You drive through a generic stretch of land for a while and that sums up most of your time behind the wheel. You’ll rely on races for most of your cash, but the AI on the default difficulty is so braindead that I typically overtook them in seconds. Running from the cops is similar, as the AI is just almost always far behind you.

Things are worsened by how mediocre the handling is. Cars simply don’t feel good to drive, plus the physics on display here are lacking. Compared to pretty much any driving game I can think of, Heading Out probably has the worst driving model I’ve seen in recent memory. Granted, it’s not horrible, but I never looked forward to doing more of it. Later you’ll unlock more events as you complete runs as well as new cars, but they don’t do much to mitigate the game’s issues. The final nail in the coffin is the fact that the game is mostly in monochrome. This only further reinforces how samey and dull all the environments are, not to mention it makes it harder to see what you’re doing.

Heading Out review driving

Heading Out does have some good qualities. The concept is interesting and some of its aspects are serviceable and refreshing, but too much of the game is focused on mundane events and uninteresting resource management. It’s an okay way to pass the time, but anyone looking for a driving game would be better off looking elsewhere.

Heading Out: Heading Out has some unique ideas, but between the mediocre gameplay and weak premise it simply doesn't demand to be taken for a drive. Andrew Farrell

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