The Shadows That Run Alongside Our Car is a newly released Pay-What-You-Want visual novel from Lox Rain (Lorelei, Laiska, and Auro-Cyanide). The game which was created over the span of four days, features two character routes and six endings.
The road is long.
Two strangers sit side by side as night falls over. The car speeds down the open highway.
Without a soul around them, everything seems to slip away. On a journey to no one knows where, all they have is words and time. And that time is dwindling fast.
The shadows are chasing.
*Disclaimer: This is a SPOILER FREE review! Also all of the images used in this review belong Lox Rain!
The game is set up so that the player is on the outside looking in at two strangers in the middle of a car ride on a lonely stretch of road. I love that the game doesn’t limit the narrative to just one perspective, as the player is able to choose which character they’d prefer to experience the events of the game through: Shelby or Dustin (names changeable).
While the dialogue in the game remains largely unchanged regardless of which character the player chooses, there are some subtle differences between the two perspectives. These differences lie mainly in the character’s thoughts about themselves, each other, and the events going on around them.
There is an eerie feeling of foreboding between the two occupants of the car, that resonates despite the lack of dialogue in the opening scenes of the game. However, after a few lines of dialogue between Shelby and Dustin it becomes apparent that this isn’t a normal car ride. Their disheveled appearances, the state of the windshield, and the blazing sky outside the car windows indicate that something is very wrong, but the player doesn’t have to wait long to find out that the tension comes not from within the car but from the slowly fading world outside.
But at least for the time being, the events occurring outside of the car take a back seat to the amazing character interactions that occur between both Shelby and Dustin. For a game that was made in only four days I was extremely impressed by the way the writers allowed the story to unfold naturally without bogging it down by huge walls of text. The writers proved that you can write a great character driven story without beating your audience over the head with exposition. With so little the writers were able to convey so many emotions, to the point that I found myself starting to sympathize with the characters and their sense of hopelessness. But, despite heavy themes, The Shadows That Run Alongside Our Car still manages to relay a message of perseverance and hope.
In keeping with the simplicity of the game, the artwork also does an excellent job of setting the mood for the game. The character sprites are beautiful, and what they lack in posing variability they more than make up in facial expression. The subtle glances and eye movements really help convey a lot of the unsaid thoughts and emotions of the characters. Which along with the background artwork really set the mood for the entire game. Even though there is only one background featured in the game, the developers did an excellent job playing up the small details. From the cracked windshield to the color variations in the car as the sun sets, every single detail was on point! Even the calm unobtrusive music lends itself to the feel of the game. The GUI is clean, and I especially like the sketchy, hand-drawn feel of the dialogue boxes and menus.
As I mentioned previously, the game has six endings, in order to unlock each one you must play both character routes. Each character has three distinct endings and while some are more hopeful than others, there really isn’t a “happy” ending. I highly recommend playing through all of the routes and ending in order to get the skinny on both characters, but it’s not necessary to understand the game.
I don’t really know what I expected from The Shadows That Run Alongside Our Car, from the sound of the title I knew I was in for something deep… I just didn’t know how deep. So when it became apparent that this was a game about the end of the world I was genuinely thrown for a loop, but in a good way. Despite the rather heavy story, the game still manages to insert brief moments of levity while still packing a satisfying emotional wallop! For such a short game this is probably one of the most thought provoking games I’ve played all year (mind you I play a TON of games).
I highly recommend giving this game a play through if you have a chance, you won’t be disappointed! I’m not one for ratings, but if I had to give Lox Rain’s The Shadows That Run Along Our Car a score it would be a 10/10!
The game is free, but you can also name your own price if you want to show your support for the developers! Download the game, HERE!
So that’s it… Are you planning on picking up a copy of the game? Or Have you already played the game already? What did you think about the review? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section. Don’t forget to let the developer know what you think about the game as well! As always THANK YOU for reading!!!