Driving a limousine is pretty awesome, right? You get to do donuts, run over pedestrians, take hallucinogenic drugs, fall in love, and live out that 1970’s B-movie fantasy you’ve always wanted to! At least that’s how life is in No Goblin’s new Xbox One indie Roundabout, and I assume it’s far more entertaining than being an actual chauffeur.
Roundabout is a chaotically enjoyable arcade game in which you control Georgio Manos, a professional chauffeur looking to carve her niche in the world. I couldn’t think of a better way to do that than to become the world’s first and best revolving limo driver, can you? The core focus of the gameplay centers around your ever revolving limousine, and how you can deliver your clients to their destination while driving like a crazy person.
You can’t control the rotation itself, so there’s a fair amount of skill involved just navigating the city while spinning around trees, light poles, and other vehicles. Watching someone else stream the game made it look like an exercise in frustration, but I quickly picked up on the mechanics and was off to the races in no time. It’s a unique idea that’s well executed, and I wholly enjoyed working my way through the campaign, as well as the game’s many optional challenges. There was just something completely satisfying about weaving in and out of a city that’s lined up like a Double Dare obstacle course. Like the gameplay though, not everyone will enjoy the game’s campy presentation.
“Since Roundabout is anything but normal, I was leaving blood trails with a giant cheeseburger sitting atop my wood paneled limo…”
Roundabout is a little bit like Crazy Taxi, but with unapologetically awful FMV storytelling and a classic 70’s feel. Picking up clients always starts with a deliciously campy FMV, which is bound to deter some, but I found myself chuckling at their lame jokes and purposely poor acting quality. I could tell the developers had a lot of fun creating this colorful cast of characters, like Georgio’s love interest Beth and the murder-fueled skeleton, Jeffery. Even Georgio herself, who rarely does anything more than turn her head in response, had a ton of character. If you’re a fan of Troma films or other B-movie classics, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
Throughout the game you accumulate money by collecting coins, which is increased as long as you don’t collide with objects in the environment. You can use this currency to purchase property around town, as well as customize your limousine’s hat and paint job; all of which are purely cosmetic. Since Roundabout is anything but normal, I was leaving blood trails with a giant cheeseburger sitting atop my wood paneled limo, weaving in and out of traffic while dodging cars falling from the sky before exploding in a blaze of glory. If you’ve ever wanted to plow through wheat fields or jump from rooftop to rooftop in a tacky gold limo adorned with a snowman, this is the game for you.
Aesthetic changes aside, Georgio also has access to a decent variety of power-ups that assist her on the field in some pretty fun ways. I spent a fair amount of time running over 2,500 people in order to unlock a music box that would play ice cream truck tunes, thus luring in more people to run over. There’s also a flotation device that opens up water travel, a traffic cone launcher (that, again, kills people), and an ability that slows down time to make those tricky roundabouts easier to maneuver. Everything serves its purpose in one way or another and unlocking them can be a little time consuming, but it’s a bit of a pain to go back and forth to the mechanic shops in order to switch them around; exacerbated by the fact that there are two different shops to visit: one for upgrades, one for aesthetic customization. You can drive near both to repair your limo, so why can’t their features just be combined in to one?
Roundabout’s campaign only took about 3 or so hours to complete, and none of the missions were overly difficult thanks to its forgiving checkpoint system, but those who want a challenge, as well as completionists, will have plenty to keep themselves occupied after the credits roll. Every delivery can be replayed at any time, featuring a plethora of bonus objectives to clear. However, without any sort of fast travel, manually navigating around the map to track down missions during the post-game was a little dull.
I picked up my fair share of missions by mistake, and the only way to abandon them was through the pause menu. If I was aiming for a specific bonus objective, but failed it, having to manually eject my client and drive all the way back to the starting point was just more trouble than it needed to be. Optional challenges, however, can be started at any time from the main menu, and are complete with worldwide and friendly leaderboards if you’re the competitive type. I’m usually not, but once I saw that I was ranked 11th in the world for the soccer ball bounce challenge, I spent a solid hour unsuccessfully trying to outdo myself.
“In an age where developers play it safe to refrain from tanking sales, I applaud No Goblin for taking a risk and making something unique, memorable, and really, really awesome.”
I owe a lot of my enjoyment to Roundabout’s charming presentation and addictively chaotic gameplay, not so much the leaderboards or its bonus objectives. As someone who enjoys unlocking achievements, I also have a personal gripe with one in particular that requires you to drive straight for 8 continuous hours (!), without ever pausing the game. If that wasn’t annoying enough, the achievement in question gives an odd number of gamerscore, which is bound to send someone’s OCD in to overdrive; present company included. The developer knows this is a troll move, but man, that’s not how I ever want to spend my evening. That’s not necessarily something that’s wrong with the game from a technical standpoint though, as Roundabout is pretty sound. I never ran in to glitches, bugs, or experienced any crashing back to the home screen, I just wished there was a little more focus on quality of life options.
What’s ear churning to one person is another’s enjoyment though, and as a fan of bad cinema, I thoroughly enjoyed the campy FMV and the quirky cast of characters. Whether I was all hopped up on hallucinogenics, mowing down pedestrians by the beachfront, or blowing up cop cars in a demolition derby, I was having a great time mastering the revolving limo mechanics and meeting new characters. Even as a game that never once took itself seriously, I found myself growing attached to Georgio Manos, her girlfriend, and her diverse clientele. Roundabout is just such a bizarre game that sucked me in pretty hard, and is easily the biggest surprise I’ve played all year for Xbox. In an age where developers play it safe to refrain from tanking sales, I applaud No Goblin for taking a risk and making something unique, memorable, and really, really awesome.
Recommended for fans of: Crazy Taxi, or quirky arcade games in general.
*This review is based on the Xbox One version of Roundabout, which is also available on PC via Steam. Unless we find significant differences between each version, consider this our definitive review.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist that one day hopes to make this writing thing a living, and will always miss living in his hometown of Baltimore. If he’s not writing, he’s usually glued to a game or watching low budget horror films with his three cats. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.