Road to Guangdong
Top Critic Average
The frequent lulls of its road trip, coupled with a monotonous roster of characters, means this driving sim should be left in the dust.
If you're looking for a sophisticated car sim, you won't find it in Road to Guangdong. What will keep you going over its short duration however is a wonderfully authentic exploration of Chinese/Cantonese culture through two very universal subjects: family and food.
Whilst Road to Guangdong does suffer from various gameplay issues and a laborious process of managing the upkeep of your car, its story is engaging and uplifting.
Road to Guangdong is a tough one to score, because what it does right – the character interaction and small-scale personal dramas – are engaging enough to be worth praise. It's just that the mechanical glue holding it all together is close to disastrous at times. As a result, we can't give it a recommendation without enough caveats to make it sound like a warning. You might like Road to Guangdong, but even if you do, you'll like it despite it doing its level best to push you away.
Road to Guangdong is a barebones, unchallenging driving simulator that sneaks up on the player with its beguiling aesthetic and warmhearted nature. It will appeal to anyone looking for something very relaxing to wash over them, but don't expect to find a lot of interesting choices to make or inspiring gameplay.
Road to Guangdong can be commended for its unique concept and colourful imagery, but that is all it has. The mundane feel of the story is part of the appeal, as is the relaxing vibe, but there is no substance or discovery to be had, since there is no agency or wrong path. Driving is barely deeper than driving in one direction. Keeping the line under the red bar, and just selling whatever that can found is as engaging as picking out maggots from a heap of rice. The original OutRun is over 30 years old now, and yet manages to have more going on when driving.
The Road to Guangdong is paved with good intentions, but ultimately it's much more of a bumpy and boring ride with a few pleasant stops along the way. Had the focus been less on the driving and maintenance of the family car and more on the family and their relationships, the handful of hours it takes to see the story to completion would be much more of a pleasure cruise. If you're willing to overlook the time spent behind the wheel of Sandy, there's a worthwhile and unique narrative to uncover here, but Road to Guangdong is a difficult recommendation nevertheless.
Ultimately, Road to Guangdong is an inconsistent game, but its heart shines through its writing and visual design.
Road to Guangdong is far from the visual novel with an added “zen” driving experience that it claims. This game feels like it was hastily thrown together as fast as possible with little care regarding gaming mechanics. The controls do not respond as they should and even trying to look around is a frustrating, difficult experience that is not worth the time or money, in my opinion. When considering Road to Guangdong‘s price point and all of its flaws, I would definitely steer away from this game.
Road to Guangdong left me impressed with its atmosphere and the family story told - while its gameplay never gets boring but remains rather shallow. The game is a good choice for an evening of relaxing and atmospheric entertainment but doesn't have enough fuel for the longer term.
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