Jalopy (game) - A trip through Eastern Europe in a Lada

July 26, 2016

I recently learned about an early access game called Jalopy. For those who does not know jalopy is a term used to describe an old and damaged car in barely functioning state.

I am awaken by an alarm clock early in the morning and greeted by my uncle (in a trippy tweed jacket) who wants to show me some car he has sitting outside his garage workshop. It is a Lada Laika without wheels, engine parts, or a passenger side door. My uncle quickly teaches me the ropes and helps me fit a door, an engine, a fuel tank, a carburetor, an ignition coil, an air filter, and some wheels. I learn about the effects of different engine parts on the fuel consumption, stress on the engine, etc. This tutorial will prove to be of use as I set out in my decrepit Lada with a bit of cash, some tools, an extra fuel tank, oil, and a map to travel across Eastern Europe.

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As I set out on the highway towards my first destination I listen to the 2-stroke engine struggling along as I try to hit at least 80 km/h. The car handles like a piece of garbage, but I helped fix it up so I still cannot hate it too much. While cruising down the highway I enjoy the view. The graphics in Jalopy is not much to talk about with the game relying on very low polygon-count models, and simple textures. The graphics do however project a very fitting style for a Eastern European setting with the somewhat muted color palette. Driving down the highway is not so terrible at all.

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The traffic is light, but then again we are in soviet era Eastern Europe. There are other cars on the road in this game, and of course they inevitably catch up to our Lada. This is life in a jalopy car. As I drive along I soon notice smoke emanating from under the bonnet. Shit! I slow down and stop at the side of the road to check what's going on. As I suspected half my engine parts have gone to shit. Well, it's a good thing I brought some tools? Or did I forget? Yep, my tweeded uncle forgot to mention how tools work. Oh well. This is one of the great things about Jalopy. There are so many ways you can mess up. I forgot my tools, so I reluctantly close the bonnet, get back in the Lada, and drive on hoping to find a petrol station before my precious Lada breaks completely down. Fortunately I do.

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Your budget is limited and as you travel you will need to spend money on fuel, oil, tools, overnight stays at motels, and other such things. Your limited budget won't last long it would seem. But if you pay attention along the road there will be opportunities to make some money as losing cargo along the road seems like a past time for Eastern European citizens. If you are really lucky you might find ditched Lada Laikas from which to loot some engine parts!

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All in all I've had two good hours of fun already with this game, but it is in a very early phase still! If you do decide to buy it be aware that there are still some bugs/glitches, and questionable performance. My fps went from around 160 during daytime to barely 10 - 20 during nighttime. Perhaps something to do with lighting effects. Playing the game in high resolution (I played with 1440p) seemed to present a bit of a challenge as the in game cursor does not scale. For less than a reasonably inexpensive craft beer (where I live) I would say this game provides decent value and hope it will improve, game-play and performance-wise, as the developer puts more work into it.

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