The ’90s was a rough time for gaming as an art form. Full-motion video sequences were everywhere, stories were nonexistent, and bad ideas for overpriced consoles were an embarrassing, ongoing fad. Out of all this dreck, though, No Goblin has forged a charming puzzle game out of a constantly revolving limousine and the love life of its driver.
Roundabout (Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Vita coming soon)
Taking on a cheesy mid-’70s vibe in the story, Roundabout actually goes out of its way to mock the crappy conventions of mid-’90s games as well. The game is broken up by hilariously poorly-acted video vignettes, starring various indie developers and friends of the No Goblin team. The game’s art style is bright and cartoonish, just light enough to work, although it’s not terribly graphically taxing.
A nice touch is the mix of stock footage and silly editing, all of it held together with an expressive silent performance from Kate Welch as Georgio Manos. Welch gets a lot of mileage out of stone-faced expressions, and the game’s central love story is actually quite sweet. Even the end credits have a clever, out-of-nowhere joke that I won’t spoil here, but, suffice to say, it’s a hilarious punchline if you know bad games.
It’s a puzzle game where you have to navigate a constantly spinning limousine, which can jump around increasingly ridiculous obstacles. It’s safe to say you’ve never played a puzzle game quite like this.
For all the weird ideas and excessive whimsy, No Goblin isn’t coasting on being funny: Roundabout is an excellent puzzle game at its core. It’s better to see the game in action than to describe it:
Needless to say, you’ve got to figure out how to slip your limo through an increasingly bizarre and tricky series of obstacles, using various upgrades you find to improve your chances along the way. It’s very fun, but getting 100 percent on every mission is a serious challenge that only the hardcore are going to pull off.
I burned through the story mode in two hours, but the game has three fairly large open-world maps packed with collectibles, from cash reserves to properties you can buy. It’s also got a string of challenges you can unlock, and power-ups that you can unlock by causing chaos in the larger gameworld. It’s also got modes like “Roundabutt,” which replaces everything with fart noises. It’s that kind of game.
Blissfully nil. You pay your $15, and you play your game.
Roundabout won’t eat 200 hours of your time, but it’s the perfect summer diversion. It’s funny, it’s smart and it’s charming, and it’s rare to say all that about any game.
Verdict: Clear Your Calendar