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Xbox One Game Review

Road to Guangdong


Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Excalibur Games
Developer: Just Add Oil
Click here to buy from Xbox Marketplace
Age Restrictions: 3+
Release Date: 28 August 2020

A family emergency reunites a young art graduate and her elderly aunt for a memorable road trip across 1990s China. Settle into the driving seat for a moving tale of faded memories, family ties and generational angst. With tough choices at every turn, how will your journey of discovery end...?

Review imagePenned by acclaimed author Yen Ooi, this captivating coming-of-age tale is set against the evocative backdrop of '90s China. Sunny’s life is at a crossroads. She knows everything’s about to change. She just doesn’t know how yet. She glances again at the contract. The good news is she’s now the proud owner of her family‘s cherished restaurant. The bad news? It’s seen better days. A tap at the door announces the arrival of her aunt, Guu Ma. Embark on a journey of discovery On a mission to revive their struggling family restaurant, Sunny and Guu Ma must visit long-lost relatives in search of secrets that will bring diners flooding back.

Road to Guangdong is a sweet, rather unexpectedly engaging game from Just Add Oil. This is one where you have to identify with the characters and care about them if the game is to work. You'll spend a great deal of time on the road, driving Sandy, a battered old car that has been in the family for years... and has certainly seen better days. Sandy has carried her loved ones through many a crisis, but she's falling apart and she’ll need a helping hand to respond to this latest emergency. Only careful driving and regular checks under the bonnet will enable her to carry Sunny to the climax of her quest.

Review imageWhile this is an English language translation of the original Chinese release, I was surprised that the developers had kept the Chinese world for each relative. So instead of "aunt", we get "Guu Ma". "Guu Ma" is Cantonese for the oldest paternal aunt (not as I originally thought the equivalent of "Grandma"). While it's not a huge issue, and after all this is a Chinese game, it could lead to confusion as to how everyone is related in the game... unless you're up to speed on the correct format for each relative.

You start the game, playing Sunny, as she discovers that she's been left the family restaurant business. However, in order to keep it running smoothly she needs to travel, along with her aunt, across China to meet with family members, ask them for their unique recipes that were specialties in the restaurant, and then return home to make sure the business is profitable.

Set in the '90s, long before Zoom was a thing - or the Internet, for that matter, Sunny much drive great distances in a car that is not really road worthy. This element is the main part of the game. Driving, while keeping an eye on the oil and petrol gauge, is not as easy as it sounds. You have to ensure you're not speeding, or you'll wear out the car parts. Every now and then you'll encounter a scrap yard or garage. In scrap yards you can pick up replacement car parts that you can replace worn out engine components, while at garages you can fill up on oil and petrol (as well as add some extra into your inventory in case of emergencies). Your petrol goes down incredibly quickly, so you'll need to pull up at the side of the road from time to time and fill her up with any reserves you are carrying.

Review imageGarages are useful as they'll give the car a quick look over to see how worn your engine parts are. You can either get the garage to fix them, or drive to the nearest scrap yard and hope there's a replacement part that will get you to the next scrap yard... or if you're lucky, to your next relative's destination. Again, should a part wear out when you're on the road you just have to open the bonnet and find the broken part and switch it for another (if you're carrying one).

You only have a limited budget, so each time you fix something your money goes down. When you run out of money the game is over. Ensuring you have spare parts, petrol and oil is essential because if you break down on the road it costs quite a lot to be recovered to a garage.

Once you reach each relative's destination you'll be presented with a situation which you have to tackle. Although, to be perfectly honest I don't think it really matters how you handle each situation as it seems to be simply resolved... and then you're off, back on the road again.

Review imageThere are some annoying aspects to the game play, that I'm hoping will get fixed with patches in the future. The most frustrating is the parking areas outside each location. When you leave a relative's house you can't actually see whether you need to turn left or right in your car. Chose the wrong direction and it's simply a case of performing a u-turn... but if you happen to make contact with the area outside their house, then you'll be sitting through a loading screen while you make an accidental visit to them again.

Overall this is a fun, original game that should keep you entertained for a lazy weekend. I don't think there's must longevity to be had here though as once you've completed the game there's little incentive to replay it.


Nick Smithson

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