It’s pretty simple getting from point A to point B in Does Not Commute. The fun comes in when you start adding point C and point D and so on. Does Not Commute is a clever and engaging little mobile game that forces you to plan ahead while playing behind. A lot of people have been looking forward to it since seeing it at GDC and now that it’s out, you should probably play it.
Described as a “strategic driving game” by developers Mediocre, the point of Does Not Commute is to continually guide a series of different cars from their starting points to their destinations. The catch is that with each successive car you have to drive, every previous commuter persists on the map, clogging up major thoroughfares and complicating your journey.
While each map can get complex rather quickly, the foundation is quite simple. Presented in a top-down perspective, you simply tap each half of the screen to steer. That, in fact, is the only amount of instructions given outside of how to use certain power-ups as you earn them. The rest is taught through simply playing.
For example, you don’t even start off knowing what the basis of the game is. Your first task is to get one fellow from the bottom of the screen to the top. Easy peasy. But then the second task, if you try to go direct, will cause the two cars to crash. It’s a brilliant and smooth bit of integrated player education.
Vehicles will also handle drastically differently, and it’s sometimes dependent on the drive. Some are in a rush and are real speed demons, which can be a humongous problem if you’re late into a map and you need to do a lot of tight maneuvering. And then sometimes you have a bus or a dump truck, and what are those naturally other than painfully slow.
That, however, is where the power-ups fit in. By using Turbo, you can fit slower drivers into tighter openings where you’ve already (and, regrettably, unknowingly) bombarded with other cars. Or by using Traction, you can rein in the unwieldy folk. It offers a layer of strategy, but also a layer in which you can once more screw yourself, which is the best kind of tool in video games.
This especially goes for collecting more time. You see, you have a timer dictating how much time you have to get everyone simultaneously through to their end goals. While it overlaps, you burn a single second every time you reset an attempt, and that really adds up. This forces you go often go out of your way to collect little bundles of time of 10 or 20 seconds. It’s a necessity, but it will also undoubtedly and fantastically bone you so hard.
A nice little touch (other than it sounding and looking great) is that each driver comes with a little blurb of a backstory, and they all tend to weave together. The first rural setting paints a picture of an accident and an identity thief no one’s noticed yet. Then you see in the city in the next map that there’s definitely might be some Cayman Islands-fleeing type money shenanigans.
One thing to note is that while the game in its entirety is absolutely free, it’s pretty much impossible to beat it unless you pay for the premium version. Fronting the cash will unlock checkpoints, so when you inevitably run out of time or simply close the app or your battery dies, you won’t have to start over from the first map. It’s an inoffensive scheme since nothing stops you from beating it for free, but it’s quickly a nuisance if you aren’t a freaking god of gaming.
The problems can quickly compound once you have to take advantage of the floaty nature of these cars. Driving off the side of an overpass might be the only way late into the game to get over a troubling intersection of your own creation. Or launching off a ramp could be the only way to save you precious seconds, preventing failure. (Also, notice that I keep saying “vehicles” and not strictly “cars,” wink wink.)
There’s a great deal that makes Does Not Commute a good game, but in this case, the best way to convince someone is to just have them play it. And at the price point of zero dollars, there’s really no reason not to give it a whirl. (That is unless you don’t own a phone, in which case how did you escape the 1800s?) You should, without a doubt, play Does Not Commute.