Self-driving cars are here already, and will only become more prevalent in the very near future. Which is all well and good until someone is killed by one and questions are raised about just who's responsible. This is the mystery behind CRASH: Autodrive, a newly released visual novel-styled adventure from indie developer Studio Nightcap.
Players assume control of a "down and out" college student named Emily Knight, who is carpooling with three strangers in a self-driving Autocab when the vehicle "makes a fatal mistake" and kills a cyclist along the way. But was it really an accident? As you and your fellow passengers begin investigating, the possibility of homicide begins to emerge. Complicating matters further, it turns out each of you knew the deceased and "all have a motive for murder – even the car's A.I." To learn the truth, you'll need to "get to know your fellow passengers and the car A.I., investigate clues, confront lies, and discover who really killed Thomas Sinclair."
Described as a "sci-fi murder mystery story with themes of gray morality and consciousness," CRASH is presented in a hand-painted visual novel art style accompanied by a "bangin' soundtrack." Much of the game's focus will be on conversation with a diverse cast of characters, including Anna Lamarr, the "frustrated coworker;" Carter Jones, the "snubbed partner;" Kyle Kondor, the vain but "bullied game streamer;" and A.D.A., the car's artificial intelligence. In between dialogue you'll also need to scour the environment for clues and solve puzzles in order to find discrepancies in the others' testimonies over the course of a projected 2-4 hours of play time.
The debut indie title by David Shaver, a "former AAA game designer who worked on the The Last of Us, Uncharted, and Titanfall franchises," is available now on Steam for Windows PC, along with a playable prologue for those who'd like to sample the game's wares before taking the plunge.