Review: Wheels of Aurelia (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: Wheels of Aurelia (Switch)

by Jon Cousins

Road tripping.

The Nintendo switch has attracted a wide variety of indie titles from around the globe, but very few have attempted to mix action while telling a story quite in the same way as Italian developers Santa Ragione Srl with their interactive visual novel, Wheels of Aurelia.

The game tells the story of a troubled young woman called Lella through a series of conversations she has with a variety of different characters she meets while driving across the Italian landscape circa 1978. Presented in an isometric viewpoint and hand drawn static character illustrations, 'Wheels' has a rustic, bright and endearing aesthetic. Using the left stick to steer your vehicle while using the right to scroll through dialogue options to interact with others, It's a really interesting combination of character driven narrative, while taking in the scenery along the highways and byways of coastal Italy. For this game, It's all about the journey, not the destination. Unfortunately, the cracks don't take long to appear. What starts out as an intriguing tale dealing with different contentious issues in a still quite archaically opinionated society, the brief conversations develop very little, and therefore the characters don't have enough 'screen time' to become memorable. 

After realising that you can see the end credits roll within 20 minutes, you'd be forgiven for feeling incredibly short changed, but there are 16 different endings, depending on which narrative path you wish to go down. 

Wheels of Aurelia talks a lot but doesn't say very much. The characters try to be layered and the dialogue wants to be edgy and reflect the mature nature of the topics, especially during the time period. The issue is that it focuses mostly on contrasting opinions and confrontations rather than character development. Flip flopping between uninspired driving sections and sporadic encounters, there's no time to actually care about the main characters, nor is there much in the way of detailed architecture or scenery to admire. Wheels of Aurelia is much more interesting in concept than in execution. For all it's attempts to be an avant garde commentary on exploring 1970s Italy, it ultimately makes the title as a game less dynamic, less entertaining and less engaging.

Final Score: 3.5

(Review code provided by the publisher)


Sairus Delaney said...

Aw that's a real shame. The sales pitch for this sounded really interesting to me. Quite disappointing to see they fumbled the execution so bad.

Famicomplicated said...

This game just looks so nice though