Road to Guangdong Review

Welcome to this car driving management sim

Driving through Guangdong might not be high on your list at first, but I’ll try to convince you otherwise.

This therapeutic yet enlightening journey with your aunt is some sort of life lesson. You’re given a rusty piece of junk that’s been passed down to you from your family, that’s now your full responsibility. It even has a name: Sandy.

But you’re in control of Sunny, a young art student that’s been given the job to look after Sandy. You join your aunt Guu Ma on a road trip of a lifetime across Guangdong meeting family members you’ve never met before in order to come together for the Spring Festival. You’re now the owner of the family’s restaurant, too. Guu Ma enlists you to find recipes from said family members that can be added to the restaurant’s menu and bring it back to its former glory.

But the main premise of the game is looking after your car right down to the entire mechanics of the car – the engine oil, fuel and overall repairs. When you first get into the car, you’re given a breakdown of what to expect when you play the game and managing Sandy. It can look overwhelming at first, and the controls aren’t the best aligned to the Switch, but you do get the hang of it.

Getting used to the car

Driving the car takes a bit of getting used to. It feels incredibly clunky.

You have to interact with the specific parts of the car to start it – when the keys are highlighted you can turn on the ignition. However, the view is really restrictive and it’s hard to even find the keys. Reversing your car isn’t even an option, so if you crash into something by mistake you’re forced to call the breakdown recovery service.

It’s almost like driving a car in real life. You have the speedometer, fuel gauge, and other warning lights that will pop up on the dashboard. You can even adjust the radio though your aunt, Guu Ma, might comment on what you do instead of driving. You soon learn how much of an attitude she has, but is great company and helpful throughout the game.

Because Sandy is assumed to be pretty old, you must drive carefully. Fuel goes down really fast so I ended up trundling along at 20mph mostly until I could pull into a garage. Saving your pennies seems almost impossible at first, but it gets easier as you progress. I tested this theory early on by driving 50mph, and my fuel was almost entirely depleted from one stretch of road.

It’s important to note that improving your car’s performance in terms of repairs will help you in the long run. You can get these repairs from fuel stations or garages, but you can also perform the repairs yourself to save some money. There’s also the option to visit scrapyards in search of parts you could use in your car or keep to sell later on.

The driving scenes are very linear, with minimal points of interest other than cars passing by and traditional Chinese music from your radio. Again, it’s pretty easy to go off course, so I’d try to drive slowly at the start to get a feel for the driving.

Discover your family’s origins

Not only is the game about maintaining your car, but it’s also a life sim. The choices you make in the conversational segments of the game reflect the outcomes you get. One of the main missions is to see all of your family to gather recipes for the Spring Festival, so choose your words wisely.

The warming part about the story is you’re following a Cantonese family come together, essentially. It feels welcoming, learning about Sunny’s family members and get to know them. The conversation choices supposedly shape how Sunny’s character is once you reach the end, though I found that the end resolution hardly differed.

Despite the aim feeling very sweet and harmonious, there’s no encouragement from the game to try to speak to your family again if, say, you cannot get a recipe from one of the family members. In terms of conversation you are fairly limited to what you can say, and most of the time the conversation loops back around so you can say something else.

In fact, I found there was hardly any direction at all from the game after the tutorial part has ended. There are a few issues in terms of accessing your map, knowing how to exit your car, whether you know if you’re going the right way or not.

Summing up

I can definitely appreciate the game’s aim, however, as it’s a lovely car driving life sim that’s not been done before. I probably learnt more about my car after tending to Sandy than before! And there is something soothing about driving down a highway in a family’s beloved car handed down a generation.

While its controls and overall clunky experience would dissuade a lot of players, I wanted to know the ending and seeing how this wonderful family came together in the end.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Road to Guangdong Review
  • Gameplay - 6/10
    6/10
  • Graphics - 5/10
    5/10
  • Sound - 8/10
    8/10
  • Replay Value - 5/10
    5/10
0/10
User Review
0/10 (0 votes)
0/10
Comments Rating 0/10 (0 reviews)
Overall
6/10

Summary

Road To Guangdong is a heartwarming game filled with a lot of character and is definitely unique in terms of what it offers. The story is one of its strongest elements, but there is a bit more to be desired. The clunky controls and experience of driving the car itself needs some finessing and can take some time getting used to.

Pros

  • Unlike any other life sim game.
  • Great story telling.
  • A heartwarming story.

Cons

  • Controls are difficult
  • Not very user-friendly experience within the car.
  • Minimal direction from the game.