American Fugitive Review – The GTA No One Wanted
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Fallen Tree Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release: 21st May 2019
Nostalgic for the old top down Grand Theft Auto games? Want to live out your The Dukes of Hazzard fantasies in a game? Then move along, because this game will fullfill neither desire.
American Fugitive is a game that initially looks and feels very promising, only to never fullfill its potential. After being framed for your fathers murder, the main character Will Riley goes to and consequently escapes prison, thus giving the game its title. In his quest to uncover the truth and punish the real hitman, Will dives headfirst into the underworld of Redrock County. The game progresses as you do various quests for people who may be able to aid you with valuable information regarding that faithfull night. Taking place in the 80’s south, the game takes a setting that could have provided a very unique and interesting story and turns it into a confused revenge tale involving the mafia, corrupt politicans and the fbi. In fact the story can be considered as very bare bones, with most missions and dialouges not doing much to develop it. It is also stuck in a strange place where it tries to simoultaneously be funny and serious. Some parts make you chuckle, while others try to, unsuccesfully, tap into your feelings.
The game has three islands and three acts, with new acts unlocking new parts of the map. As the player goes through the first missions, the lack of variety in the missions becomes evident. While one might think that the slow start is simply to build up momentum, the tediousness of the quests lives on throughout the entirety of the game. Most of your time is spent driving from point A to B to C, performing monotonous tasks, a lot of which simply involve moving cargo around. In fact, if this game had been called fetch quest simulator it would have gotten a perfect score from me. The rare missions in the game involving a shootout are let down by unsatisfying gunplay and poor AI enemies that simply charge toward you like raging bulls. The game is further let down by a lack of checkpoints within missions, failing a quest right before the finish line can force you to redo a lot of mundane tasks that you already once did. Beside the main story, the player can choose to involve himself in time trials, carjumps or burglary.
The burglary system is in fact perhaps the most innovative part of American Fugitive, where it provides a few options on how to complete the task at hand. The stealthy player can carefully scout a house to ensure it it is empty, quietly move in and steal valuables without catching heat. Meanwhile, the soulless can barge right in, waste the innocent civilians inside and attempt to violently escape the arriving cavalry. There is an issue with the burglray mechanic however, in that I never really found myself wanting to do it outside of the story. You make enough money off of the main missions to purchase whatever you want and I never once felt like taking a detour from the story to make more cash. Another fun mechanic are the towing trucks. These allow you to attach any car (even if they’re moving!) to yourself and drag them to whereever you want. It is quite a lot of fun to kidnap a target mid-driving, then tow him to an empty farm and beat him up in peace and quiet. Or why not tow a chasing police car and attempt to release him right around a corner so that he crashes into a tree! The gameworld also deserves praise. Besides the graphics looking very impressive for an indie game, the train track spanning throughout the map is an interesting inclusion as it sometimes allows you to drive on it to take a shortcut, while running the risk of crashing with a train.
Overall, while American Fugitive has a few fun moments, the sheer volume of the mindnumbing missions and the unfocused story makes it very hard to recommend. It is aboslutely not worth the 20€ asking price and perhaps only worth buying on sale if one truly cares about the era and settings, even though the game does not take full advantage of them.