My Summer Car: The Great Derailer

I have a confession to make. I’ve been somewhat derailed this week. I barely played two hours of Tomb Raider before I came across a game that swept me off my feet. It’s a strange one, of the simulator variety, but it stands out from the crowd in that it simulates a summer in Finland in 1995.

My Summer Car is a strange concept. A survival game set in the Finnish countryside, you are a young man spending his summer building a car. But you can’t just build a car, you have to live too. You need to contend with hunger, thirst, fatigue — you even have to contend with your bladder (thankfully your bowels are left out of the equation, not sure for how long though). And finally, by default (it is an option that can be turned off) My Summer Car is a permadeath game. For those unsavvy with the term, permadeath means that when you die the game deletes your save, forcing you to start over from scratch.

My first (and only) death so far. When stopped at the police checkpoint, be sure to watch out for speeding cars on the road. The crazy fuckers will hit you.

In order to upgrade the Satsuma you need money. Thankfully you are in possession of a septic pumper truck and a pile of wood that can be chopped into firewood. You get calls from people asking you to pump their septic tanks for money, and you get calls from a guy wanting to buy firewood. With the money you do what any teenager who has just reached age of majority does, you buy a whole bunch of ready to eat meals and beer so you can get drunk while working on your car.

While My Summer Car sounds like a game that wouldn’t be enjoyable (who wants to pump people’s shit?) it has a surprisingly addictive nature to it. Building the Satsuma is a challenge in itself, and for someone who knows very little about cars it’s been a learning experience. I can’t account for its accuracy, but the car, and the way the parts interact with each other, seem to be pretty spot on. The tuning is in depth and with the promise of more updates down the line it can only get better.

The Gifu septic pumper truck. It’s a beast on six wheels. 

Furthermore My Summer Car has character, from Teimo, the shopkeeper who mumbles in Finnish when you’re in his store, to the drunk guy that calls you at two in the morning to give him a ride home, this game feels like it’s brimming with life, even if there really isn’t that many people around. And nothing quite beats the elation when you start the Satsuma for the first time (and the dread when, although it’s running, it won’t move).

Hopefully I’ll be back on track over the next week, but I can’t make any promises. Pokemon Sun and Moon came out today. As of writing this my copy still hasn’t arrived. Tomb Raider might have to wait for another week.

Looks good, runs like shit, a teenagers car if I ever saw one.