Review: Wheels of Aurelia (PS4).
A racing game with racing but no storyline? We already know it. How about a production of this type with a story, but WITHOUT racing? And not to mention that it can be completed in less than 15 minutes … What is it, but the originality of Wheels of Aurelia (PS4) cannot be denied.
Italy in the 70s of the last century. A girl named Lella is driving a car with her friend through the streets of Rome and she has no idea yet what city will be the next point of their trip. And since we’re going aimlessly, you might as well take hitchhikers. So I took the obese guy who turned out to be a former racer. He asked me to stop at the nearest bank. He robbed it and went back to the car, so I started running away from the cops. In the meantime, my friend admitted that she was pregnant and asked if we could go to France, because there they reportedly have an immediate abortion. Unfortunately, the police caught us. I pleaded guilty and Lella went to jail. It’s game over.
The gameplay described above lasted about twelve minutes, and my contribution was limited to choosing the road on rare junctions and one of the two dialogue options during driving conversations. You do not even need to steer, because the car drives by itself, allowing us to focus on talking to hitchhikers. The exception was the chase – here speed mattered and by hitting the gas my car no longer passed the rest of the road on its own, but not every bump into someone coming from the opposite direction ended in a crash. The game likes to randomly decide whether we will collide with another car or simply cross it. The most common option is option 3 – a bit of a collision, a bit of interference, and in the end I had no idea what happened or what bumping into someone else would change at all. If you think about it, controlling Lella’s vehicle doesn’t make sense at all, the developers just wanted to give us something to do in the background during the conversation.
I have never hitchhiked or taken a hitchhiker myself, but I understand the basic assumptions – you take someone to the car, and he repays you with a conversation. Since she gets into the car with strangers and travels, she probably has some interesting stories, so it shouldn’t be boring. Wheels of Aurelia (PS4) seems to be a simulator of such gathering of people, and the further events of the game depend on the gathered passengers. It is them, the effect of a possible chase or escape and selected dialogue lines that create the further plot, although the conversations themselves did not seem to have too much influence on anything.
The title of the game refers to the Via Aurelia road, i.e. the route connecting Rome with Pisa, dating back to the 3rd century BC. Today, in its place is a national road (Italian: Strada Statale), commonly known as La Via Aurelia. Hitching on highways is illegal and ineffective, so hitchhikers usually look for a ride in such countries.
If you are unfamiliar with the reality of Italy in the 1970s, most of the dialogues will not matter to you in the slightest. Political terrorism, the still present neo-fascist and communist movements, the great influence of the Church on politics and the Catholic party in power … I had to do a long research to understand the context of the talks or various taunts between the characters. If you are unfamiliar with this period of Italian history and are completely out of your interest, you’ll be bored to death.
In theory, each ending of the game gives us more insight into the heroine and her passengers. There are as many as sixteen different endings and (including trophies) they can be fun in their own right, where we figure out what can be done differently this time to get a new ending. However, we choose dialogues by setting one of the issues and waiting for the timing bar to end, which lasts forever and slows down the game. Combined with a completely negligible influence on the handling of the car, it means that you don’t want to repeat everything again, but this time choose a different path towards the end.
The whole thing is saved by a unique graphic style and progressive rock in the soundtrack, although do not expect it to keep you with the consoles for long. Ultimately, the first few approaches to the game can be interesting, but the farther into the forest, the more you repeat the same to get a different finale … that is, a short text informing about the further history of the characters. Ultimately, there are not enough games in the game, and the dialogues will only be interesting for people who know anything about the situation in Italy in the 70s. Otherwise, most of the story twists will be indifferent to you. One of the most niche titles for PlayStation consoles.