I’ll be honest, when I first saw Totally Reliable Delivery Service I fully expected it to be one of those games that’s more fun to watch than to actually play. You know the games: the madcap physics ragdoll games like Guts and Glory that are brilliant for content creators/YouTubers because it’s entertaining when trimmed down into a video of fails, but they’re actually quite frustrating in your hands.
I was wrong. Totally Reliable Delivery Service is one of those games that manages to look very engaging as well as being somewhat enjoyable to play. So long as you can overlook the technical issues, that is.
There’s one very simple premise to Totally Reliable Delivery Service – take an object from A to B as fast as you can without damaging the package too much. Basically, be a Hermes driver. The kicker? Your delivery person plays like they’re made of noodles. The game controls play a lot like Gang Beasts as in you can “Grab” and “Raise your arms” with the Dualshock 4 trigger buttons. That is to say, it’s not intuitive in the slightest. The characters move like play-dough sliding on ice. You feel in control but they’re constantly moving and seconds away from tying themselves in knots. What’s more, the game’s world is against you, throwing all kinds of obstacles at you. Tree trunks and sewer grates that explode upwards, explosive barrels in the road and drawbridges that lift unexpectedly. That enough? Nah.
Vehicles drive like shopping trolley’s with a wheel all bunged up with chewing gum. As you can imagine, deliveries are slow, accident filled and the packages almost always get banged up. Just like a Hermes driver.
Pull the lever on any of the hundreds of delivery machines and your delivery item pops out. Grab the parcel and watch it wobble into the air on the end of your Cheese String-like arm. Raise it up and try to place it in the back of the vehicle. Fail. Try again. Fail. It’s back on the floor. One more time. It’s in but precariously. Maybe try again? I could make it worse? Nah. Let’s just go. Jump in the vehicle and grab the controls. Pull off. Parcel flies out of back and into road, down hill and into the sea. Repeat. This is Totally Reliable Delivery Service in a nutshell.
The delivery missions come in two types – doing it quickly and doing it carefully – and your performance for each is graded from Bronze to Gold (and, of course, you can fail a delivery if you really smash up that package). Packages come in a small variety of shapes and sizes from small boxes to barrels which’ll roll around in your vehicle and even a nuclear device which, needless to say, can’t survive a tumble. When you activate a mission, a vehicle spawns alongside your deliverable so you can get it loaded up and on your way. Vehicles are physics-based too so you can end up hanging off the car while still driving it or launching your package over your windscreen if you brake too hard. And then there’s the helicopters. Of all the vehicles in the game – from hot air balloons to GASA rocket ships – the helicopters are the worst. Flying them is difficult enough without worrying about the barrel/box you’re trying to deliver. It’s difficult, funny at first but quickly frustrating. The only exception to this is the helicopter that has a giant magnet strapped to the bottom… That’s just plain fun.
With each delivery you complete, you unlock customisation options for your character. From lips to shirts, shoes to hairstyles, you can customise everything about your pudgy delivery dork. You can make some truly horrific creations with the options here, or pick a matching outfit. It’s up to you. After you reach certain delivery milestones, you also unlock vehicles in your HQ garage.
Like the best ragdoll comedy games, there’s no progress limiting activities here. The game is basically a sandbox with objectives you can complete in any order. When you fire up the game for the first time, you’re immediately directed to a one mission tutorial which is basically “move this box over here” and then you’re on your own, free to do as you wish.
Although, you don’t have to be on your own. Totally Reliable Delivery Service has local and online 4-player multiplayer. Playing in co-op has a number of effects. It certainly makes the game easier if you’ve got someone who knows what they’re doing. With one of you driving while the others make sure that the parcel doesn’t get thrown away, the harder deliveries in the game become much easier. The laughs really come to the fore in multiplayer too. There’s ambient world objects like cannons that you can use to fire each other around which don’t work in single player. There’s slapstick fun to be had away from the objectives of the game here, like racing down the ski slope on sleds just for the fun of it. In the hands of my four kids, not a single delivery was made but they laughed a lot (between bickering over who should drive the hot air balloon).
The multiplayer is also where the worst of the technical issues with Totally Reliable Delivery Service begin. Anything above two-player local split-screen turns the frame rate to treacle, making the game stutter along like my nan clicking through her Cornwall holiday slides. When online in multiplayer, the frame rate is much better but there’s the occasional physics glitch that can see you suddenly end up flying through the sky for no reason. When you’re not smacking each other with fish and actually trying to complete a delivery only to find yourself a thousand feet in the air, it’s pretty disheartening.
Even outside of the multiplayer in Totally Reliable Delivery Service, there are some bugs and technical problems. The pop in can be quite severe when travelling at speed. The game has blue-screen crashed on me twice in two days. At one point, I paused the game and the screen went black but the menu didn’t appear. It just froze up. While these bugs are rare, they contribute to the feeling this game lacks polish.
When Totally Reliable Delivery Service is working as it’s supposed too, it’s a hoot. It’s a visually simplistic but colourful game with chilled out backing music and a really simplistic gameplay loop that even a 3-year-old can understand. The purposefully useless control scheme and sandbox game design are there to make you laugh despite your failures. For the younger gamer, there’s enough variety in the missions and locations to keep them busy for a few hours. It’s a hard sell to anyone else though.
Totally Reliable Delivery Service is launching on the PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store, PS4 (reviewed on a base console), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on the 1st of April, 2020.
Developer: We’re Five Games
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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