Does not Commute (Free) by Mediocre AB is a new kind of strategic driving game from the same guys behind one of my favorite games last year, Smash Hit. If you think driving in real life can be difficult, what happens when you drive all the cars at the same time in a temporal paradox? Well, chaos is bound to happen, which is what keeps you coming back for more in Does Not Commute.
Remember those critical thinking math word problems that you had to answer in elementary school? Where it involves multiple vehicles traveling in the same direction, but one could be faster than the other? Or they are going towards each other and you had to answer something like how fast they will pass each other? Does Not Commute reminds me a bit of those word problems from school, except this is a much more fun and visual way of looking at things. Plus, witnessing traffic chaos because of your mistakes is pretty fun. Needless to say, Does Not Commute is a unique game that is worthy of your time.
The graphics in Does Not Commute are gorgeous, but I’d expect no less from the people of Smash Hit. It reminds me a bit of Pako – Car Chase Simulator due to the angled top-down perspective, but Does Not Commute has a much more polished visual style. The stages are well thought out with different paths, shortcuts, and plenty of detailed and textured obstacles that you need to watch out for as you go about your commute. The colors are rich, vibrant, and lush, emitting a soft dream-like glow that looks great. Since the game takes place in 1970, it brings a new meaning to “retro game.” The soft jazz soundtrack is easy to listen to, and the sound effects from the game are quirky and charming.
There is a wide variety of lively characters in the small towns of Does Not Commute, and each one has their own background story and description that you’ll see before you control their drive to get to their destination. This makes players feel more connected to the characters, and sometimes you’ll get a good laugh out of them thanks to witty humor.
Does Not Commute is split up into different levels that consist of multiple parts, which players must complete one-by-one. It starts off with one driver and their car, but when you complete their route, another person appears and you have to control their car, while the previous one is still in effect (temporal paradox). This process must be repeated for each driver in the level, which is usually over 10. As you can imagine, as you direct the cars on different paths, things get complex and convoluted when more cars are added — any mistakes that you make will cost you.
To make things more difficult, you only have a certain amount of time (60 seconds to start with) to complete each level, but there are power-up items that you can collect on the map to add more seconds to the clock. Whatever you have by the end of a level will be carried over to the next one. You can also unlock other power-ups, like turbo, to use in a pinch.
The controls in the game are simple: there are two buttons, one on the left and another on the right. You use these buttons to steer the cars, but be careful, as it’s not as simple as just going to your left and your right — since these are cars, going left means to the car’s left, and right means the car’s right. So if a car is coming in from the top of the screen and going south, tapping the left button makes them move towards your right on the screen. It sounds confusing at first, but it makes sense once you play the game yourself.
I have already mentioned several times that things will get disorderly as more cars get added to the mix. Each vehicle is also unique with their weight, handling, and speed, so you also have to take that into consideration. If you start crashing cars into buildings, poles, or whatever else, then the car gets slowed down, meaning precious seconds are wasted. If you think you can do better, you can “rewind” that car with the button in the top left corner, for a do-over, but this will cost one-second from the total remaining time, so make it count.
Like Smash Hit, Does Not Commute is completely free with no ugly ads or consumable in-app purchases. However, as you make progress in the game, you’ll reach “checkpoints,” but you aren’t able to continue from the checkpoints unless you get the premium IAP.
Personally though, I think Mediocre AB pushes out quality titles that are distinctive from whatever else is out on the market, so I didn’t hesitate to get that IAP — they deserve a few bucks for such great games. If you opt to not get the premium upgrade, you can still play the game, but you’ll have to start from the beginning if you fail.
I’ve only played a bit of Does Not Commute, but it’s one of my favorite games so far this week. The visual style is stunning, the music is delightful, the controls are simple but take time to master, and the gameplay is challenging and different from your normal strategy game. This is definitely a game you don’t want to miss out on.
I highly recommend checking out Does Not Commute if you haven’t already. You can get it on the App Store as a universal download for free with an in-app purchase of $1.99 to resume from checkpoints.