Review: American Truck Simulator

American Truck Simulator: beautiful scenery
It’s pretty, and/but nobody dies.

‘American Truck Simulator’ aka ‘the thing I do when I want to listen to a podcast, but I have already done the dishes’ is, depending on your needs, a deep Truck Driving Simulation with superficial economics, or a serious alternative to Zen meditation. I mainly care for the latter and I really appreciate that the game let’s me decide how much of a simulation I get. I don’t care for complex parking maneuvers and accurate fuel calculation. I just want to WASD myself on the highway, drive frozen vegetables from Show Low (AZ) to Sacramento (CA), stare into the golden sunset and listen to some questionable gaming podcast while my brain slowly drains itself. That is until I crash my truck into a police car at 75mph, because I didn’t realize that I  already left the highway a few moments ago. It’s spectacular proof of why video games are so important for our society. I can live my truck driving fantasies, which I didn’t know I had until I played Euro Truck Simulator 2, right here in the comfort of my own home, and nobody has to die.

American Truck Simulator: night
At night it’s dark.

I already spent some time with ‘American Truck Simulator’ before, but as many others, I didn’t like that they changed the scale of the map from 1:20 in ‘Euro Truck Simulator 2’ to 1:35 in the new game. America felt too small. So, as many others, I was more than excited to hear that SCS Software decided to rescale the map back to 1:20. This is my first time revisiting ‘American Truck Simulator’ after the rescale, and I am happy to say that SCS did a fantastic job. It’s still just three states, but the scale feels right now. I can finally try to repay that generous bank loan I thought was a sensible investment when I first started the game. I don’t play often enough to ever build up that truck empire I dream of while running a red light in Reno at 80mph, but it’s always fun to come back and do another tour. It certainly beats washing the dishes.

Again Information: ATS was and is still being developed by SCS Software and was released in 2016. You can buy it on Steam.

Review: ABZÛ

ABZU: protagonist swiming with blue wales
Those ain’t fish!

ABZÛ is an underwater walking simulator by Giant Squid, released in summer of 2016. I knew what I was getting into, because I had heard and read a lot about this game beforehand. I pretty much got what I expected. You steer your diver from one location to the next and that’s basically it. For me ABZÛ worked best, when it tried least to be a game and focused on being a beautiful trip through a lovingly crafted underwater world. There are passages that nearly take all control from you and just let you bathe in the glory of it’s art design and huge masses of fish (put your fish settings on ‘Ultra’!). The orchestral soundtrack is fantastic. At some points the game even managed to trigger some childhood-Disney-movie-emotions in me. Well done! As soon as the game made me do it’s over simplified ‘puzzles’, especially in its second half, I got bored. I can accept that it’s more about style and atmosphere, than story or gameplay – so why shove those tedious elements down my throat? Still, if you happen to own a large TV, a decent controller and manage to buy the game on a sale, I think it’s worth to dive in for it’s roughly two hours of play time.

ABZU: protagonist swiming with a swarm of fish
So long.

Impression: 7 Grand Steps

7 Grand Steps: a view of the main screen showing a complex slotmachine
Pretty self-explanatory.

This little game by Mousechief! is one of the stranger items of my collection. You lead the fate of a family in ancient times, and you do it via a coin operated board game. I guess you could categorize it as ‘casual strategy’.
If found myself playing this one longer than I expected, even though the rather abstract concept isn’t my cup of tea. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of inserting coins – the game certainly taps into some precious childhood memories there.
After a while it gets repetitive, and if the game hadn’t been part of some bundle, I probably would never have played it. Especially not for the staggering price of 20€. Don’t pay more than 5€, even if you are into this kind of game. Done.