Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic I, like many others, have hoped for a return to the boring normality of a routine everyday job. Punch in, sit around, wait for things to happen, punch out. Imagine how lovely it would be to just… go to work and stare out of the window, occasionally glancing at a clock telling me that I need to wait another three minutes before completing my next task. Luckily for me, KishMish Games have crafted this exact experience in the form of “Bus Driver Simulator,” and I can play it from the comfort of my own home.
As implied, much of your time with “Bus Driver Simulator” will be spent waiting. The buses of “Bus Driver Simulator” arrive on time, thank you very much, and if you dare to leave a bus stop too early you shall be penalized by losing some of the measly fares you earned by driving to the bus stop in the first place. And so when you start a new route in career mode or scenario mode, you are often tasked with waiting for up to three minutes before you can even drive your bus to the next stop. Did it take you thirty seconds to arrive even though this stop is supposed to happen in two minutes? Well, then you wait for another minute and a half.
When you’re not waiting in “Bus Driver Simulator,” you are often driving a bus. The bus handles very clunkily, but given that this game is meant to simulate the experience of driving a bus, the clunkiness is a feature and not a bug. Turn signals are vital, of course, as is a rear view mirror to let you know what’s going on behind you in the streets of Cologne, Germany or Serpukhov, Russia. In addition to driving a bus you are required to turn all kinds of lights on or off, to start your engine and to open and close front AND back doors. There is even a little radio that you can turn on to play some lo fi chill-hop beats that you could study, relax, or even chill too. And finally, you have a handy little screen in front of you that shows important information like your schedule and fare deposits.
Those fares are important. You need the money you get from fares for everything from filling up your tank, to buying new buses and adding fancy new doors in the spare parts shop. The career mode is the meat of “Bus Driver Simulator;” the place where you buy new buses and parts and drive most of the routes. Scenario mode is more episodic. You are given a single route to complete given certain parameters, and you go about your business. To be fair, there is a lot to do in this game. There are thirteen different buses to unlock, from a minibus to a big-boy coach, all with at least a couple paint jobs. There are also a few different routes to keep you busy, and scenario mode gives you even more ways to experience the monotony of driving a bus from stop to stop.
Following the rules of the road is paramount in either mode. If you, frazzled by the impending time limit, forget to close the door and drive off from a bus stop, you will lose money. Some of these rules seem rather arbitrary however. Drive off-road? Lose cash immediately. Drive on the wrong side of the road? Ehhhh it happens.
There is also a free driving mode hidden in career mode that might just be the most fun part of the game. If you ever dreamt of GTA: Public Transit Simulator, this is the mode for you. You can drive around, smashing into things, honking your horn (I guess I forgot to mention you could honk a horn), and generally causing mayhem in the streets of Serpukhov. Nothing really happens aside from your fares going into the negative, though, and you can’t pick up any passengers while you are free driving.
If you are looking for fast-paced, cutting edge action and ray-tracing, “Bus Driver Simulator” obviously is not the game for you. Models in this game look dated, and the physics are interesting to say the least. People walking on your bus often seem drunk and their elbows sometimes move like open staplers snapping back into place. But “Bus Driver Simulator” has its charm. There is something admirable about creating a game where the stakes are so low, and where the entire design philosophy seems to revolve around creating something so passive that it recalls a slow and monotonous day at work. This game resembles the chill-hop beats that come on the bus’s radio: janky and boring, but mostly inoffensive and also kind of catchy.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Bus Driver Simulator Review
Gameplay - 3/10
Graphics - 3/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 6/10
User Review( votes)
“Bus Driver Simulator” is like a mediocre chill-hop beat: janky and boring, but also mostly inoffensive and kind of catchy.
- Fairly accurate simulation of the monotony of daily life.
- Some of the music is good to put on in the background if you have an exam coming up.
- Bus handles like a bus.
- You occasionally feel like a character in “Waiting for Godot”.
- Arbitrary rules of the road.
- Poor graphics.
- Character models are occasionally glitch-zombies.