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  • Writer's pictureAD Twindad

Review: Pacific Drive

Developer: Ironwood Studios

Available on: PlayStation 5, PC (Steam)

The Journey Begins

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in America. I was able to enjoy some of them while attending survival school at Fairchild AFB, WA. Mountains, rivers, wildlife, and plenty of rain or snow (season dependent). Why do I bring this up? Because Pacific Drive is about exploring the PNW and the Olympic Peninsula, with a little bit of a twist.

Brought to us by Ironwood Studios, our story takes place years after a failed government experiment in the 70s, where an exclusion zone was set up to prevent the public from gaining access to the peninsula and the failures of experimental LIM technology.

As a curious explorer, our protagonist wants to see what all the buzz is about as the zone has been shrouded in secrecy and conspiracy theories as the memory of the event fades from the public eye. Suddenly transported into the mysterious world that remains, they discover a trusty station wagon called a "remnant." An echo left over from the old world, very few remain, but they can lead to the host going insane the longer they are exposed so now the real journey begins through the heart of the zone and finding a way back home. As you discover new routes and stops, you can discover new creatures and anomalies to unlock new technology or tools to get you home. Collecting lost audio logs and files from the wilderness will help you discover the lost secrets of the Advanced Resonance Development Agency (ARDA) and the LIM technology that mutated the area into what it is today, hopefully leading you out of the exclusion zone and rescuing the few remaining survivors along the way.

Drive to Survive

Pacific Drive ventures into several gaming genres for a single-player game. At its core, it’s a story-rich survival crafting game, but that only touches the surface of everything you can do in the game. Salvaging materials from the zone with various tools like the scrapper, impact hammer, and liberator are the beginning of the arsenal at your disposal. These will allow you to make repairs and upgrades to your battle wagon with blow torches and repair putty while painting it fire engine red and applying floral decals. Want some fuzzy dice on your mirror? Light-up rims? You can find those too and make it your own.

Your base station is an old garage station on the outskirts of the zone where you can repair, improve, and store materials before setting out into the zone to explore. The tech tree is large for both garage improvements and new additions to your steed that will help it and you survive the ever-increasing dangers of the zone. Each new blueprint takes raw material resources and energy obtained from venturing out into the various landscapes, the more advanced blueprints require scanning the dangerous anomalies located throughout the zone. Off-road tires, armored panels, lightning rods, and roof rack lights are a fraction of the examples available to you to fight against the anomalies and environment in the zone. If you are a completionist type of gamer, you could spend hundreds of hours trying to unlock everything. If you want to speedrun and risk going out with the very basics, there is a path for the thrill-seeker too.

Hundreds of different anomalies and threats exist in the zone including radiation from the cataclysmic event and abductors that roam around snagging you or your car and tossing you about. The enemies and hazards you face range from static monoliths that rise from the ground to bouncing orbs of electricity called "bunnies" that drain the power from your ride to buzzsaws that wreak havoc along the roads. While avoiding these objects of terror, you need to salvage parts and pieces from the zone to unlock new blueprints and create a tougher vehicle to push forward further into the zone. Thousands of abandoned vehicles, buildings, and ARDA facilities are located around the area, holding all the goodies you need to keep going if you can get to them and make it back in time.

Take the Scenic Route

Just to give you an example of the scale, currently, I have played around 20 hrs. or so in the game, and I have unlocked nearly 30 locations to explore, and I haven’t even made it into the innermost sections of the zone. Each area can offer new anomalies to face and scan, unlocking new branches in the tech tree or creating compounding hazards to avoid. The locations vary from damp forests to sunny vistas and mysterious pitch-black swamp areas or poisonous bogs; each presents a new challenge to survive and thrive. Depending on your gaming personality, the journey can drastically change from player to player. I tend to be more cautious with my driving and foot excursions, but if you feel the need for speed and explosions, boy howdy there is all that and more available to you.

Along with the unique scenery, there is the gorgeous environment that Ironwood Studios has created, giving a level of immersion throughout the game. Multiple weather patterns and times of day create scenic backdrops and beautiful visuals that seem to permeate throughout the journey. The soundtrack and score create a wow factor that brings the surreal environment to life and highlights the suspense and horror elements of the game. The audio engineers incorporate many layers into the sound and offer multiple radio stations in the zone that provide a haunting backdrop to your driving experience. The soundtrack includes 15 original tracks and over 20+ licensed songs with somber melodies and fast-paced rock that sets the tone as you eat up the pavement or plow through the forest with the pedal to the floor. I highly suggest playing with 3D sound if your platform is capable of it to immerse yourself.

Overall Impressions

I enjoy games where it feels like you can get your money’s worth out of it. Whether it be through story, features, or replayability. If a gamer spends their hard-earned money on a game and invests what free time some of us have to a game, I want to leave satisfied that I didn’t waste my time with it.

Indifferent to your style of gameplay or preference of genre, you will not feel like you wasted your time with Pacific Drive. Whether it is completing the storyline, exploring every route, or unlocking every tool/upgrade, there is something for everyone in this game, and you can do it with style the whole way. As the first offer from Ironwood Studios, I am truly impressed and hope to see more games by them down the road. They have an impeccable eye for style and feel and really know how to incorporate them into a well-rounded game that creates an indelible experience. Our fearless leader ShanghaiSix and several members of the stream team have played it on the StackUpDotOrg Twitch channel so go check out some of their clips and impressions firsthand.

The game is currently available on Steam, PS5, and the Epic Games Store. You can also purchase the original 15-song soundtrack and a DLC pack of space-themed cosmetic pieces separately.

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1 Comment

Beverly Powell
Beverly Powell
11 hours ago

This update of Pacific Drive brings many neat and interesting features that satisfy fans. The driving feeling is cool and many driving environments and options can be updated by the player. foodle

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