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Pacific Drive Review: The journey of a lifetime

Horror survival is one of my favorite genres of video games, and I will try any such game that comes my way in the hopes that it will be somewhat fun and engaging. Pacific Drive isn't somewhat fun and engaging, however.

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Instead, this game has taken me by the hand, sat me behind the wheel, and drove me into such an amazing adventure that I haven't been able to play anything else from the moment I got it.

Gameplay

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From the driving to the crafting mechanics and a big map with lots to explore, Pacific Drive's gameplay is almost perfect. The brightest star is the car itself, which handles just like a real car would. It gets better the more I upgrade it, and it gets damaged the more I hit a tree or get attacked by an Anomaly. The car parts can be fixed up, but at some point, they will wear out. The only thing to do then is replace them, so don't get too attached to your flower-painted steel door (like I did).

Related: How to get Energy for the Fabricator in Pacific Drive

Adding to how well the car mechanic has been designed, any time I tried to close the trunk without moving out of the way, I took damage. Don't even get me started on not putting the car in park on an incline, getting out, and then having to run after it before it slams into something. I'm embarrassed by everything that the Anomalies have seen me do.

The map of the Pacific Northwest is huge, but the only places you can travel through are stable points in the zone, the Junctions. Each Junction has set roads and an overall layout, but the buildings, resources, Anomalies, and Conditions will change with every run. It's definitely a learning curve on planning your route and making sure you have repair tools, enough tools, and a battery to get where you want, but that's why it's so fun.

When it comes to crafting, there are so many tools, materials, resources, and upgrades that can be unlocked in Pacific Drive. While I did find it annoying that I always had to look for Chemicals to make Repair Putty, that was totally my own fault for not driving carefully and destroying my car.

Gameplay: 5/5

World & Lore

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The premise of Pacific Drive is that you and your car are together through thick and thin. I thought I knew what to expect, but boy, was I wrong. I get emotionally attached to rocks on the side of the road; I should have guessed how attached I would get to my Remmy (the lovingly nicknamed Remnant), despite all of the warnings.

There were moments when all I did was explore the areas and look for materials to upgrade the car without touching the main story. But even then, there are bits and pieces of story in the form of logs and documents scattered in the world. Even the F.A.X. Machine, with its disjointed messages, is adding to the story of the game.

When following the main story, despite not being an active participant in the conversation and just a driver trying to get out, I enjoyed listening to all of the dialogue between Oppy, Tobias, and Francis. Their constant back and forth really had me laughing at moments. It was fascinating to discover their stories and the creation of the Olympic Zone. But mostly, they made me feel less alone in an unknown world, which I was thankful for.

Rating: 5/5

Sound Design

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One of the factors that contributes most to my fear and insecurity in Pacific Drive is the genius sound design. I've been raving about it from the very first moment I stepped (or drove) into the Olympic Zone. It might be mostly empty humans, but the zone is anything but silent.

As I traveled more, I started learning to differentiate most of the Anomalies that live in the zone by sound. That also means being able to recognize when I am technically safe outside of the car. Even with the knowledge that there was nothing around me, the music and sounds did not let me actually feel safe.

Related: How to recharge your car battery in Pacific Drive

I was ready to run at all times when listening to every crack of a branch and the rustle of leaves around me. And hearing something big in the distance really had my blood running cold. I knew that I had never encountered anything like that and probably never would, but the possibility of it was still there and had my adrenaline pumping at all times.

I also found myself turning on the radio quite a bit, even when that caused me to run headlights first into an Abductor that I didn't see because I was driving too fast (and too furious). I will definitely be listening to Ghost on the Road as soon as the Official Soundtrack is out.

Sound Design: 5/5

Visuals

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The Pacific Northwest is a forested area that looks absolutely stunning in this game. It also looks absolutely terrifying. Even with the sun out and shining, the world doesn't feel alive, happy, and thriving. The roads and buildings are decrepit, and the trees cast long shadows that hide danger.

But the best part, yet again, is the car. The little wagon that could does not look like much at the start. Honestly, it looked like it would fall apart at any moment with its rusted crude panels, but it drove me to safety. And with every update and coat of paint, the car looked better.

The side and roof racks are my favorite part. It's such a clever way to increase storage space, as well as to add extra fuel, solar panels for the battery, etc. The car looks so cluttered by the end of it, but I love it. A big bonus is the paint, decals, and many accessories you could choose from to decorate your car. A Laika bobblehead was my faithful companion.

Visuals: 5/5

Verdict - I'll be going on a Pacific Drive over and over again

In a time when survival games abound, Pacific Drive shines with its beautiful but dangerous worl, and provides a wonderful twist on the genre with its driver and car dynamic. I was just someone who was driving and collecting the materials and knowledge, but the car was the main act, with all of its quirks and breaking parts.

I love survival games, and I have to say that no other game has made me fall in love with the charm, beauty, and horror of it quite like Pacific Drive has. Playing this game has definitely been a journey of a lifetime, and I will be exploring this world many more times in the days to come.

If you want to learn how to deal with your car acting weird, check out How to fix car quirks with Tinker Station in Pacific Drive on Pro Game Guides.


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Author
Hristina Matić
Hristina has been a full-time Staff Writer at Pro Game Guides since October 2023. She has a Master's degree in English Language, Literature and Culture from the University of Belgrade. She's used her love of English to write blogs, anime quizzes, books as well as work as a Content Editor before starting at PGG. She lives for the horror genre and you'll often find her playing Dead by Daylight, Lethal Company, and Phasmophobia. Hristina's comfort games are Outlast, Last of Us, and Until Dawn, which she has played or watched other people play more than 10 times each.

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Pacific Drive Review: The journey of a lifetime

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