Does Can’t Drive This race to the finish or stay locked in the garage?
Unique driving games aren’t all that common. This is a fairly logical statement, as the point of driving tends to be getting from A to B, often as quickly as possible. The likes of Roundabout and Distance give an unusual spin — literally in the former’s case — as does Can’t Drive This, an interesting co-op racing game from Pixel Maniacs.
At its most basic, Can’t Drive This has one player as the driver, whilst their partner acts as the builder. The driver’s job is to drive as far and for as long as possible, without their car exploding due to travelling too slowly, or falling off the track to their death. The builder’s job is to construct the track in real time using square tiles to give the driver a road under their tyres, not unlike Gromit in The Wrong Trousers. Things are rarely as simple as this sounds, however.
The play area is split into a grid which makes placing the tiles easy, but each tile is randomly selected from a fairly large number of different pieces. You could get something as simple as a straight road, intersection, or turn, but you could also end up with a jump, wind tunnel, or rotating hammer. The builder will need to constantly think on their feet, whilst the driver will need to keep an eye on what’s coming up. This keeps things pretty fresh as you play, but it can be a touch irritating to get pieces that are going to force you out of the play area, or cause the car to move faster than you’re able to place pieces.
The issue here is that the builder’s camera is locked to the car’s location, without them having any control over it. This leads to misplaced tiles as the driver does what they’re meant to, and the inability to plan too far ahead. This wouldn’t be a big problem if it weren’t for boost and jump tiles that send the car dashing off ahead without you being able to see far enough to place pieces, compounded by the split screen giving you an even smaller play area. This led to one of us driving as slowly as we were allowed to without exploding, whilst the other tried to get tiles placed in some form of track, which kind of defeats the purpose of the game.
This isn’t to say Can’t Drive This wasn’t fun. Trying to keep up with each other whilst dashing around the ever growing track was Moving Out levels of silliness meets annoyance. The fact there are different play modes kept things enjoyable too, with a simple survival mode giving way to a time limited option where collecting objects extends your timer whilst drones drop bombs on you. Then there’s the raucous Capture the Egg, which is like ‘capture the flag’, but with a weighted egg strapped to the back of your truck making driving effectively much harder.
There’s even a single player option in which you switch between builder and driver to get as far as you can within the time limit. I really enjoyed this mode and found myself playing it as much as the multiplayer options. It felt like a fast paced puzzle as I planned what to do with the tiles I was given to get as far as I could, without having to worry about the driver veering off elsewhere. There’s a fair bit of scope for a mode like this to be expanded with some kind of deck-building element in which you could have a pre-selected deck of tiles that would be randomly picked from or cycled through. Something for a future game perhaps.
The general presentation is pretty solid, with functional but not outstanding visuals that are added to thanks to lots of cosmetic unlocks for performing stunts in game. Music is a series of fairly generic guitar tracks whilst the vehicles sound fine, albeit all the same. There’s some well done voice work in the tutorials — which make fun of themselves and reference Keanu Reeves an awful lot — but on the whole there’s nothing spectacular or dreadful in this regard.
A game like Can’t Drive This really lives or dies on its online community, and sadly there doesn’t seem to be a huge one at the moment, at least on Xbox. However, with a group of friends playing together online or off, this is a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a fun, silly, and unique driving game then you’re certainly on the right track.