Have you ever looked around when stuck in traffic? There are 1000 stories all around you, but you usually live only one: your own. In Does not Commute, however, you delve into the lives of other drivers while you try to stop them crashing into each other by solving kinetic driving puzzles. The result is a sublime mix of game and non-linear story where you can enjoy both the driving and the complex intersection of personal tales.
Traffic as a game
It all starts with a car. A car and a purpose: to get from a starting location to a street located across the map. You only have 60 seconds, but that shouldn’t stop you guiding your first car through the night with ease. After all, there seems no traffic in this part of town. For now.
Everything seems to go smoothly until Does not Commute puts you in control of a second driver with their own story. This second car has a different destination, but the time is shared between both travelers: if you come across the first car, you have to dodge it or lose time.
And so this continues - ten, 15, 20 cars, all moving at the same time, along the same streets, converting a quiet suburb into engine-filled chaos, with squealing tires and headlights cutting through the night. Each collision robs you of time, which can only be regained by collecting various bonuses.
Each piece of the puzzle has a history
At the end of each level, you have the chance to replay the action. In this mode you can enjoy the intersecting personal stories, adding a dimension hitherto unknown to this kind of puzzler. It's as if every piece in Tetris has its own name and motivations.
Does not Commute's designers have given the game a distinct visual flare, recreating a style reminiscent of 60s and 70s cinema, with a soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place in The Pink Panther or Bullet. This is also highlighted by the game's graphics filter which maintains the feel of watching an old movie, yellow and broken.
The driving itself hides little mystery, with the only real wrinkle being that each car responds differently according to its power and size. The controls function in a similar way to Death Rally but, unlike its bloodthirsty cousin, Does not Commute’s focus is on its gentle story rather than explosions and fire.
Another Mediocre masterpiece
Developer Mediocre could not seem more ill-named as it continues to release a string of high-quality games. Does not Commute is another name in this already impressive list, which consists of Granny Smith, Sprinkle, and Smash Hit.
With regards to its illustrious predecessors, Does not Commute shows an enticing new interest in narrative, but without sacrificing the elements that led to Mediocre's success: high-quality audiovisual with simple, but difficult to master, mechanics.