PAX East 2024 – Heading Out Is A Modern Day Oregon Trail

Heading Out
Image Credit: Saber Interactive.

When I received an email for a chance to go hands-on with a narrative noir racer, I jumped at the chance immediately. I love film noir, racing games, and strong narratives in my game. Heading Out will be a slam dunk in my book by this logic. 

After spending more time with the game at PAX East and learning more about what the team at Serious Sim has cooking, I can’t wait to play the full release. 

Heading Out Features Style and Substance

With a presentation ripped straight from the 1970s, Heading Out takes full advantage of its black-and-white visual style. Fully voiced cutscenes combined with comic-book style overlays ooze style. While some things didn’t click during the demo, particularly the radio DJ, the gameplay feels tense. 

As a driver on the run, you build your own backstory as you progress through the game. Who are you? What happened in your past? These are all decisions you make as you play through the game. The game’s narrative focus helps to keep things fresh. Racers can be a dime a dozen, even if they offer unique hooks like Heading Out. But Heading Out is far more than just a racing game in the style of a movie like Vanishing Point; it’s so much more.

heading out usa map
Image Credit: Saber Interactive.

Between driving sections, you’ll have to manage resources: gas money, avoiding the cops, and branching pathways as you traverse the country. It feels a lot like the old-school Oregon Trail game. This isn’t busywork between the “real” gameplay. Every choice you make has a consequence and will tie everything together. 

Talking with the developers, these were the three tentpoles of their vision: racing, resource management, and narrative. It seems like an RPG, which I pointed out to the developers, but at its heart, the team cares about racing games. They grew up with Need for Speed and Burnout, but they want something deeper and more mature as they get older. They want that extra layer of story.

Heading Out Balances Arcade and Simulation Racing

One of the key features of any racing game today is how it will play. Simulation racing has never been more prevalent, thanks to the popularity of franchises like Forza and Gran Turismo. Yet that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to go fully all-in with a realistic driving experience. Sometimes, you just want to go as fast as humanly possible and drift through every turn. 

Heading Out finds a nice mix between the two. It’s something that the developers were aware of and one of the things we spoke about most during my time playing the game. They stressed the importance of balancing arcade driving and simulation racing. It’s important to allow the player to have fun playing the game.

heading out driving from cops
Image Credit: Saber Interactive.

At the same time, you’re a driver on the run. There has to be some sort of challenge here. The result is an absolute joy to play. I felt right at home driving and look forward to seeing how the game will challenge me as I progress through the story. 

Heading Out will be released on Steam on May 7th, 2024. It looks to provide a mature, unique experience in the racing genre. If my time with the game at PAX East is any indication, Serious Sim will deliver on that promise.


Written by Jake Valentine

I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I'm also a lover of video games, food, and beer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *