Being a limousine driver isn’t an easy gig. You’ve always got to worry about people running in the street, cars falling from the sky and, of course, what hat you’re going to put on your vehicle. But most importantly, how do you differentiate yourself? Georgio Ramos decided to make her mark on the exciting world of limo driving by becoming the world’s foremost revolving chauffeur. But the colorful action game Roundabout isn’t just about her journey to fame. It’s a story in which love, drugs, revenge, anarchy and more all come together to form one of the most delightfully absurd games in recent memory.
If you really want to boil it down, Roundabout is what you get when you throw Crazy Taxi, Tony Hawk, Kuru Kuru Kururin, and an amateur filmmaker with a camera and a love for cheesy full-motion video games into a pot. As Georgio, you control an always-rotating limousine through the open streets of Roundabout city. You can’t control the speed of the rotation, and you can only rarely affect its direction, so maneuvering around the streets requires precise timing.
I know I’m spinning my car around with no concern for the safety of others, but come on, dude. That’s not how you park.
As you move through the game’s open world, you accept missions by picking up passengers. Every time you pick someone up you are treated to a unique and cheesy full-motion video sequence that contributes to the game’s story. The sequences encapsulate Roundabout’s tone: They’re ridiculous, they don’t take themselves seriously, and they look like they could have been made in a garage. The acting in each is deliberately amateur, rather than an attempt to meet big Hollywood’s exacting standards. Such scenes are what might result from a group of friends getting together to make a dumb and campy film with a 1970s feel. Google the actors’ names, and you find that the actors mostly a bunch of video game industry acquaintances, which might explain the clips’ goofy and good-natured tone.
Even if you were to find these videos grating, they are easily skipped at the tap of a button. But to do so would be a mistake, as the scenes contain not only a lot of humor, but a lot of heart. Each character’s story arc guarantees at least a chuckle or two. Even Georgio, who never utters a word, conveys a lot of emotion each time she looks over her shoulder to the person in the back seat of her limo.
Love, drugs, revenge, anarchy and more all come together to form one of the most delightfully absurd games in recent memory.
As you pick up passengers and take them where they need to go, you must carefully weave your way through obstacles like cars, street lamps, fences and, of course, roundabouts. Most objects in the environment are indestructible, and colliding with them causes damage to your limo. It’s important to learn how to slide yourself into gaps as you spin, which allows you to navigate turns and avoid other drivers, who would be easily missable if you were driving like a normal person instead of a spinning maniac. Getting the hang of moving with the limo’s rotation requires you to twist your brain a bit, but deftly sliding through obstacles is eminently satisfying. You often have to be quick, though, or you’ll spin right into a tree (or worse). Hit enough obstacles, and your limo blows up in spectacular fashion, but don’t worry: you won’t lose too much in terms of progress.
You can get some help moving through town by equipping different power-ups, including one that allows you to slow down time while you move through obstacles, and another that helps you pinpoint hidden collectibles. Eventually, the story also grants you the ability to jump, which opens up even more paths and shortcuts.
This isn’t even the weirdest thing that happens in Roundabout.
It’s impossible to fail a mission in Roundabout, but you can complete it poorly. You might fail to meet optional challenges, such as completing a mission without hitting anything, or finishing within a certain time limit, and your time is added to a global leaderboard on which you are told how you rank against your friends. If you’re more concerned with earning money, you’ll want to keep your combo multiplier going by collecting objects quickly and not hitting obstacles along the way. Need to keep up a combo but see no nearby pickups? Just run over some pedestrians. Surely there’s no harm in that at all.
One of Roundabout’s few flaws is the lack of a quick restart option while in the middle of a task. You can retry a mission upon completing it, but if you get halfway through and want to restart for any reason you must ditch your passenger via the pause menu. This stops the mission, but it doesn’t take you back to the beginning, forcing you to make that trek yourself. Similarly, there is no easy way to see your score or completion percentage on missions you are not currently engaged with, and there’s no way to quickly travel to them either. This isn’t much of an issue when playing through the story for the first time, but it makes going back for 100-percent completion more painful than it needs to be.
Click above for more Roundabout images.
Roundabout is short, but sweet. If you just blaze through the story you can be done in a couple hours or less. Those hours are kept fresh with a handful of challenges that break up the pure driving (such as a destruction derby event and a mission to bounce a soccer ball on your limo repeatedly), which can be replayed for higher leaderboard scores. You’re also encouraged to dive back into the world of Roundabout to find all its collectibles, finish each mission’s goals, or play through the entire game in an “eSports” speedrun mode that eliminates the FMV stuff.
But even without the incentives to keep playing after the credits roll, Roundabout works well as a short chunk of oddbeat humor and arcade-like gameplay. It’s unapologetic in its goofiness, and it tells a fun story on top of its relatively unique gameplay. Sure, you can draw comparisons to the games that inspired it, but when was the last time you played an absurdist 1970s limousine game that was this much fun?