In a world of fast-paced action and strategic decision making, sometimes it is nice to play the role of a bystander. Hitchhiker is a game that prides itself on taking you through a journey, instead of letting you create your own path. The end result is a monotonous but thought provoking journey that is closer to an interactive experience than a traditional game.
Hitchhiker’s primary drive is the plot starring an amnesiac hitchhiker on a journey to uncover his past. After getting a ride with a raisin farmer named Vern, the hitchhiker discovers a photo of him and his girlfriend in Vern’s glove compartment. After Vern accidentally reveals that he knows more than he is letting on about the hitchhiker’s situation, the hitchhiker realises his girlfriend might be in trouble. He then sets out on a hitchhiking journey with strange occurrences to save his girlfriend and to remember his past.
As the hitchhiker travels from car to car, he encounters several drivers with their own issues. While you are not explicitly solving their problems, the drivers each leave the player with philosophical questions ranging from human desire to the true power of AI technology. The interactions between the current driver and the hitchhiker are easily the highlights here, as the fully voiced dialogue is well-crafted and littered with references to other works, such as The Great Gatsby and The Matrix.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is where Hitchhiker ultimately falls short. The game plays from a first-person perspective, with the hitchhiker interacting with his environment in minor ways, such as opening or closing a window. For the most part, you are just selecting a dialogue option or interacting with an object the game asks you to, but sometimes the game will sprinkle in a puzzle or two. The difficulty of these puzzles are all over the place, with some puzzles being self-explanatory while others are incredibly obtuse, breaking the pace.
Even though the game is incredibly short at around three hours, Hitchhiker’s greater issue lies in its pacing, as it can drag immensely at points. The option to skip or fast forward the dialogue could have helped the monotony, but that feature is surprisingly absent. Additionally, the game struggles to run smoothly at points. Objects in the background constantly pop in, the game stutters during saving, and menus freeze up forcing a full game reset, severely breaking the story’s flow.
While playing as someone not in the driver’s seat is a novel idea, Hitchhiker struggles to create an enjoyable gameplay experience. While the story is engaging, the game’s technical issues, inconsistent puzzle difficulty, and overall monotonous gameplay makes this a better movie than a game. If you are looking for a game that has you playing a more interactive experience, you should steer clear from Hitchhiker.