released on Mar 07, 2023
Direct Drive is a silent-movie-musical game about being an intern in the music industry in 1927.
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Cute, short, and snap-snap-snappy with a utilisation of the crank that sets it apart from other crank-heavy titles like Crankin's Time Travel Adventure and A Balanced Brew. Whereas those games go for a one-to-oneness between physical movement and gameplay, Direct Drive brings momentum into the picture, leading to a looser style of play. This works stupendously in theory, but the low resistance of the crank, and relatively slow cranking involved, means what should feel like pedalling a bike or grinding coffee beans instead seems unresponsive at times. With generous room for error, however, that never becomes a problem prohibiting progress. Even the managers' requests and harsher timing penalties never make this frustrating or, frankly, challenging. I got three stars on every song on my first try, and only the singular diversion of calibrating the turntable gave me any difficulty.
But you know what? That's fine. I don't use my Playdate to feel frustrated, I use it as a short(er) diversion, a little amuse-bouche of what games can achieve. Purely as a game, Direct Drive could use improving. As a concept, it's great, and it put a smile on my face which is what I want from this little yellow doodad.
Fantastic game! Such a unique and cool way to integrate the crank function into a game. I love how it is not direct so you have to kind of get skill as you go.
The music in this game is just outstanding. It is almost like an ideal game for an audiophile and the story is as equally compelling in this regard.
I don’t wanna spoil anyone’s fun with the game so I won’t say more, but the cut scenes are just fabulous and the play a joy. It is truly my new favorite PlayDate game!
Direct Drive is a thematic and engaging game about manually rotating a broken record player. You have the spin the record to match the speed of the singer, but the record and crank mapping isn't 1:1, so it behaves more like a flywheel with inertia. This adds a layer of complexity which requires a surprising amount of focus. In between levels (a.k.a music tracks), you watch story cutscenes, excellently rendered in the form of a silent movie. The cutscenes are one of the best parts of the game, and I looked forward to each one as much as the levels themselves. In addition to the 12 levels, there are also a couple of small mini games and the most robust achievement system I've seen on Playdate so far.
Everything about this product is executed to the highest degree of polish, and it takes advantage of every one of Playdate's unique features. The character art and animations are gorgeous, the writing is enjoyable, and there's even a well-integrated tutorial system for every new mechanic that is introduced. The music itself seems designed to be humorous, but there were a few tracks that I liked a lot. I enjoyed my time with this game enough to 100% it, and am eagerly awaiting the future content.