Even though Soviet City turned out to be a disappointment, I liked being a Forward Recon Gamer for a while and decided to try another early-access title recently released on Steam. This time it’s Jalopy.
How could I resist a game which promises me a journey through the German Democratic Republic on board of a trusty Trabant — one of the automotive legends of the former Eastern Block? Screenshots and trailers were encouraging too, since the visual side of Jalopy strongly reminds of the Interstate series, even if the car looks way more humble and I didn’t notice a minigun mounted on its top.
After a half hour of play, however, I can tell that the strongest part is the unique setting. According to the wall calendar in the garage — the ‘main base’ where our journey begins — it’s June 1990 and the GDR is just about to fall apart. The calendar proudly displays a blurred picture of Erich Honecker, the last leader of the First German Socialist State. The first sight after leaving the starting point is the outline of a Soviet T-34 tank on the horizon, which most likely is yet another monument of humiliation placed there by the masters to remind their slaves that ‘ihr habt den Krieg verloren’. During the road trip from Berlin to Dresden, in an attempt to cross the border, the Uncle, the player’s only companion and advisor, wonders if it will be possible to enter Czechoslovakia after it has dropped the word ‘Socialist’ from the official country name. To put it short, the atmosphere is similar to that of Papers, Please, although it’s certainly more melancholic than oppressive.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much more to say, since the current version of the game made it impossible for me to pass through the first petrol station, simply crashing everytime I tried to pay for my precious 10 litres. The developers promise constant updates, though, and there’s hope that I’ll learn about the Czech (and Slovak) post-Velvet Revolution hospitality.
The Quest above All Quests: trying to make up and fulfill my own objectives in every game I play and record on this blog. An attempt to turn a story dreamed by someone else into my own.
The espionage thread was promising. One of the possibilities for my captains was to work for the Admiralty in a little more profitable, complex and meaningful than simple enriching their paperwork archive with yet another port report. And how delighted I was to find out that the delivery of Strategic Information to the old man sitting in the house on a bank of an old river was a succesful method to raise the Fallen Albion from the ashes With each package, the Random Numbers Idol would decide if London made another step on the ladder of imperialism. My Fourth Captain actually made the mistake to hand out the precious and poisonous material to the Admiral’s rival, but my limited experiences with the agents of the Dawn Machine — rather precognition than solid knowledge — made me avoid contact with her since that time.
Although the narration is filled with irony, and sometimes with outright sarcasm, it does allow motives to appear which could be named ‘reactionary’, for the lack of a better word. Wouldn’t it be a noble goal for my captain to serve their country and make Britannia rule the (under)waves again? And wouldn’t be another great opportunity for me, the player, to strive for another achievement which is not acknowledged by the game itself? Of course it would!
My Country, Right or Wrong: help London achieve a superpower status on the Underzee
Too soon it became obvious that there’s no worthy achievement in this. After establishing a succesful network of spies in Khan’s Heart and collecting Strategic Information from all corners of the Underzee, I have suddenly reached the glass ceiling of the espionage world. This is what happened to the Fourth Captain while he was leaving the Admiralty Office after another meeting with the old man:
So this is how it ends. With the Supremacy quality at Glorious level, there’s not much to overcome and conquer, at least not in service of Her Traitorous Majesty. London has reached the peak of its power and my services are not required anymore. Just some farewell gifts waiting at the doorstep. The Hero has retired. Who knows, maybe this is what drove the Fourth Captain north, on a hopeless expedition with a certain merchant, from which he didn’t ever return? But this is a material for another story.