Review: Wheels of Aurelia

Bravo, Santa Ragione and Brava, Lella! This driving sim/adventure hybrid’s a definite Game of the Year contender that will make those who “get” it want to crack open a few books and do some heavy reading and/or thinking.

Platform: PC (also on Mac/Linux/PS4/Xbox One)
Developer: Santa Ragione
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Release Date: 9/20/2016
# of Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Site
Score: A (95%) BUY IT!


Calling Santa Ragione’s outstanding Wheels of Aurelia a simple “driving simulation” is REALLY selling it short. This brilliantly conceived hybrid game is more of a mature “choose your own path conversation-based adventure that just so happens to take place in a almost constantly moving car” with 16 possible outcomes and more than that many ways to reach them. From the beautiful stylized simplicity of the art, the great soundtrack (buy it!) that captures the spirit of late 70’s Italian radio tracks, and the mature script that may rankle a few overly sensitive types while striking others as flat out fantastic and thought-provoking.

Save for the ride you choose, the game’s opening is exactly the same each time. In 1978, Lella and Olga, two young Italian ladies who met the previous evening at a disco, set out on a road trip to France on the Via Aurelia along the western coast of Italy. Along the way, the pair talk about life, pick up a hitchhiker or two (or none – it’s up to you) and based on the path both the conversation and car takes, the game reaches a conclusion in all of 15 minutes or so. 16 endings at 15 minutes each ends up at 4 hours total playtime IF you’re silly enough to think you’ll see every conversation and character variant possible. The combination of period-era history, frankly spoken dialogue and some VERY interesting hitchhikers make this very replayable as well as a great exercise in storytelling.

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Random Game of the Week: FOTONICA

Indie game development is all the rage these days to the point that it’s changed the way games are made and marketed (some would say for the worse in the long run, but I don’t agree and that’s another article for another time). I often play way too many of these when I should be doing more important things, but it’s always great to discover buried treasures before they get uncovered by the usual suspects and dragged out into the sunlight for all to play as some sort of next big thing.

Anyway, Santa Ragione’s spectacular FOTONICA was recommended by a friend and I’m glad I took his advice. It’s a simple, one button game with a stylized look and fast-paced, but easy to grasp gameplay you’ll want to experience for yourself. PC and Mac compatible the game is also a free download (but there’s a suggested ‘pay what you want’ donation I’d suggest you use just to support the developer). Anyway, enough blabbing from me. I’ve a busy day ahead – go play a game today!