by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Packing the truck
Moving to a new house by yourself is a difficult proposition at the best of times. Organising a truck, packing all your belongings into it, and then driving to the new location, hoping that nothing gets damaged along the way. Radical Relocation has you doing just that, except you don’t get the moving truck, but have to pile all your belongings onto your vehicle of choice before heading off to the new Home Sweet Home.
Radical relocation is a game in two parts. The first has you delicately organizing your furniture onto your car. It plays like a game of Tetris as you carefully place and stack objects onto the roof, bonnet (hood) and boot (trunk) of your vehicle. The first few levels have you organizing basic items, most of which can be stacked upon each other. Fridges, chests of drawers, boxes, and suitcases make for simple stacking. But soon enough, less angular objects are added into the mix. Balls, vases, and bottles can roll around and can be difficult to find an optimal loading spot. Large, irregular items such as Grand pianos and tall basketball hoops make the task of packing even more challenging.
Items can be rotated across the 360-degree spectrum - turned upside down and at various angles. It can often be difficult to get the exact placement though, which can add some frustration. The non-rectangular items can be particularly difficult. On one level, I had to place a soccer goal on my vehicle and getting it to sit exactly the way I wanted was almost impossible. In the end, I settled for a position that I thought would be good enough to get me home with some careful driving.
From A to B
Of course, packing all your belongings into (or onto) your moving vehicle of choice is just the first step. Once you’re all packed, it is then time to hit the road. And unless, you have tied everything down, objects are bound to move through the journey. Turning corners at too high a speed will result in object potentially sliding off. As soon as something hits the ground, the move is a fail and must be restarted – at which point you can choose to re-pack everything, or simply start the driving portion again. But it is not just the corners that can cause your undoing. Parked cars block your way, trees and lamp posts can dislodge items stacked high and potholes cause the vehicle to jump. And then there is the danger of train tracks, and even more dangerously…the train that uses them.
And getting from A to B comes with a timer, so although slow and steady will often get you there without any items shifting, it may not get you there in time. It can often be a fine line between speed and delicate driving, and much of this can be a result of the packing phase of the game. And then there are the multitude of streets you can navigate to get to your destination. Do you navigate down the long straight street with parked cars, pot holes, roadworks and overhanging trees, or do you travel the winding streets with no impediments? This choice in routes certainly adds an amount of replayability to the driving section. Players can even take short cuts through parkland if they can navigate over curbs and through trees. Again, if the car is packed well enough, short cuts and driving at speed is possible.
Each level has a scoring guide based on the time it takes to reach your destination (after the packing phase has been completed). So, it pays to take your time and pack everything in an optimal way in the first phase of the game. Awards are given in the form of bonuses and five different vehicle parts. Once all five parts have been collected, players can then use them to build their chosen vehicle. Each of the vehicle have their own advantages – and disadvantages. The van for instance, has a heap of flat space for players to stack items, but it is also taller and requires drivers to navigate around trees so that items do not get knocked off.
But as well as different vehicles (including water-bound and airborne transportation), players can also gain the use of various bonuses that will help them to pack their gear and keep it in place. Using these can allow players to load their items easier of get them to their location much faster but using the boosts will result in less parts being awarded at the end of each mission. These bonuses include a trailer to help carry more items or even a rope to tie things down – preventing them from moving during your journey.
The visuals have a cute cartoon feel similar to Totally Reliable Delivery Service, with basic textures and lots of bright colours, that encourage younger gamers (or the Nintendo crowd) to play. Objects – for the most part – are clearly discernable from others and with simple mechanics that let you move them around. A camera too, helps to look at the setting from various angles. The camera can be annoying though. At one stage I loaded a basketball onto my car, and after adding a few other items, it fell off and rolled under some trees. It was at this point that I couldn’t actually reach it and had to begin stacking everything again.
Hit the road
Radical Relocation does have several enjoyable features. The mixture of Tetris-style puzzle game and driving simulator works well. The mechanics are simple, the controls are satisfactory and there is quite a wide array of scenarios. Unfortunately, it can become a little frustrating when you cannot quite place an object where you want it, and as a result it falls off during your journey. And although there are a wide range of scenarios, they do start to become a tad monotonous after a couple of hours – particularly when you’re spending so much time trying to get things to fit. But once you’re all set, the driving is a heap of fun which makes you want to move onto the next location.
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Simple mechanics, fun driving
Can get frustrating as items don’t place exactly where you want them. Camera can be annoying.