Does Not Commute: Quippy car-sim chaos on Apple TV
A comical car commuting chaos that’s often thwarting, a bit zen and totally addictive.
If you are or ever have been a member of the commuting culture, then ironically, Does Not Commute by Mediocre is a game for you. Why you ask, when I go through all the sometimes strange and often frustrating experiences of a commute would I play a game about it? Read on and find out.
The top-down perspective opens on an idyllic 1970’s suburban neighbourhood scene. A VW Bug starts its motor as “Dentist Charles Schneider leaves his house and heads to his clinic on Glower Boulevard”. It’s a short trip with a simple series of turns. Next starts a postal van, “Postwoman Betty is very efficient, so she always has time to stop and see Mr. Beck”. Sounds simple right? Well, this round consists of 13 commuters progressively taking their routes. This quickly becomes a chaos of congestion and carambolage. Each car has a different control mechanic, faster, slower, less traction or more manoeuvrable and you must adjust immediately. Honestly I went through several bouts of road rage trying to master the driving. Add to that a total time limit of 60 seconds for 13 commutes and you start pounding the virtual steering wheel!
Rules of the road
Although the Apple TV Siri remote controls in Does Not Commute are mere left or right pad taps, it’s each car’s particular mechanic that’ll drive you mad. From the get-go expect to smash into a house, streetlight or any of your previous motorists. Collisions result in snail-pace movement and a cloud of sputtering smoke. It’s times like this that you hit the Rewind button–or just commit suicide in the river. Unfortunately rewinding knocks a second off your precious countdown. Additionally you need to remember each past route, especially if you were all over the road. Often you’ll just be totally thwarted by your previous bad driving. Memory skills are only one key aspect of play. Driving from the top of the screen is like steering in a mirror, with direction gone topsy-turvy.
After a good dose of rounds, often frustrating but always fun, you’ll make it to the next scene. Reward in order, upgrades like Turbo, Traction Control or Armour are gained through the levels. There’s even a Practice button to let you “cheat” the commute without losing time. Just don’t forget how you drove. Along the way you can steer over numbers which add 10 or 20 seconds to the clock. However, they’re often located in tricky spots between buildings or on slow off-road paths. Here I pummel the virtual horn.
Driving Ms. Santiago
With continuing practice, gameplay actually becomes oddly zen and even hypnotising. The polished graphics have a kind of radiance including dynamic lighting and weather. Each level has delightful town features and a variety of vehicles. Crash, screech, honk or school bus kids screaming sound-fx and a mellow surf music soundtrack add to the ambience. But the underlying, almost philosophical part of Does Not Commute by developers Mediocre adds a special character. The written narrative of each commuter run conveys the driver’s thoughts, fears and quirks. “School bus driver Ms. Santiago thinks the best thing about kids being loud is that no one can hear you cry”. As you progress the city’s commuter stories unfold. Little quips like “Irene Spencer has loved boats since she was three, she’s now six” (yes, even boats) show a witty style. Just another aspect of a well-designed game with personality.
Does Not Commute is a fun, sometimes discouraging, comical yet bittersweet car sim story that’ll have you pounding the wheel and laughing simultaneously!