I’ve been without a car for about a year and a half now. While I certainly miss the ability to hit a drive-thru whenever the urge to pollute my body hits me, I moreso long for the drives I’d often embark on in the middle of the night, aimlessly wandering to clear my thoughts, my ears at the complete mercy of whatever poor souls were stuck working graveyard shift at the local radio station.
Glitchhikers feels like a game that should only be played at 1 in the morning, right around the point when fatigue starts to settle in, leaving you in a dull hum that would match the sound of a car drifting on an empty street. It’s certainly an acquired taste, likely attracting the same crowd that would spend the better part of an evening driving down the same roads over and over, having a full conversation in their head. I think that’s why the game limits your control over the actual driving, as it captures the same the sense one would have going over familiar streets again and again; eventually it starts to feel automatic, as if you could find your way home even after falling asleep at the wheel.
True to its name however, you’re not always alone, occasionally picking up a fellow lost soul to have a brief chat until they reached their destination. The conversations are always very candid and often deeply philosophical, pondering the nature of existance and our place in the world, capped off by the fact that your passengers are frequently aliens or some other flavor of pariah. The intent may not be entirely clear at first, but more often than not, I found myself relating to these people. I think it’s because Glitchhikers captures, whether intentionally or not, the very specific feeling of freedom we have in talking to a stranger that we know we’ll never see again. It’s a feeling that’s undeniably human, even if the character’s aren’t.
I imagine that if someone were to play the game on a bright afternoon, most of these things wouldn’t translate as well, the musings of your company seeming more random and navel-gazing. I, for one, like to gaze at a navel once in a while. There’s usually something interesting in there.