Hitchhiker preview (Gamescom)

Currently under development at Mad About Pandas and being published by Versus Evil, Hitchhiker is an upcoming mystery game that takes a different approach to narrative adventures. Here’s our preview.

What we know

Scheduled to come out this winter, Hitchhiker is being developed for PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Apple Arcade. As the name suggests, you’re hitching rides from people – but in doing so the narrative starts to unravel itself. There’s little you know about yourself when you start the game, and you can’t remember much – not even where you’re going.

You quickly learn not all is what it seems, as the person you’re riding with knows more about you than he should. Do you trust what he says? How will it affect your answers? Conversations reveal sometimes dark secrets about yourself, as you slowly piece together what has happened and what you’re supposed to do.

hitchhiker

Besides the narrative element, which is the bulk of the game, Hitchhiker also allows for limited interaction with your environment. This allows you to pick up on clues, do or grab something for the driver, or even solve a quick puzzle. There are five drives for you to go on, each telling you more about the mystery that’s unfolding.

What we saw

We met with Mad About Pandas during Gamescom at the Versus Evil booth, and went hands on with an early build of Hitchhiker. In it, we played through one of the game’s five drives – which lasted about forty minutes in total. The demo was played on a PC with mouse controls.

What we thought

Hitchhiker seemed mysterious when we first laid eyes on the trailer for the game, and it certainly did not disappoint during our hands on session. Without giving too much away, a ride-along that starts like any other quickly turned strange due to remarks that alluded to my host knowing more about my identity than what should be possible.

hitchhiker3

There was a great ebb and flow in the conversation as well, with seemingly trivial banter being mixed in with tension-inducing revelations and/or hints. You’ll uncover things that don’t make sense, see things in the car that don’t belong there, and pick up on elements on the side of the road that also seem to be subtle hints.

We loved our little taste of Hitchhiker and can’t wait to play the entire game when it’s ready. Due to its nature as a narrative experience set inside of a car there is a limited amount of traditional gameplay outside of the occasional item you pick up or manipulate, but the conversation and mystery more than make up for it. During our lengthy ride-along we saw the environment outside repeat itself more than a few times, but perhaps this is something that will be changed for the final release so things don’t feel like you’re riding in circles rather than from A to B. Or perhaps that’s part of the mystery…..

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