Heading Out review

by on May 10, 2024
Release Date

May 7, 2024


Heading Out blends different genres and ideas to create something rather different to what already exists. It’s a roguelike, a racer, and has light RPG elements, all while featuring a black and white art style with tinges of colour that reminded me of Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City. What I wasn’t expecting was the narrative elements where you begin to craft your own story, your own beliefs and fears, all in the guise of an unnamed protagonist that becomes more and more relatable as you drive across America.

Each run of Heading Out sees you trying to escape fear, portrayed by both a red line on the road map overworld between actual driving moments, and a red mist that sneaks up on you as you sit behind the wheel of a car. As you pick which path to take on the map, you must manage your resources and keep your car in good condition, while maintaining focus and avoiding the cops. The main purpose is to meet a mysterious driver at certain points on the map, but how you get there is down to you.

If the fear catches you, it’s game over. It’s relatively easy to avoid it, but you need to make sure every decision plays into your avoidance of it. There are multiple story beats that play out in a a hand-drawn screen with dialogue, where you have to make tough decisions that impact your reputation and focus. You might have to decide whether to give a stranger some gas, help a robber who has a heart attack in front of you right after trying to take your money, or take a few minutes out of your road trip to talk with a cop who just wants to chat.

These conversations and decisions, depending on your choice, can affect how your road trip goes. I was driving too fast that I ran over a poor girl’s dog. I could have driven off, but I chose to help bury it for her, but in turn it gave the fear a number of hours to catch up with me. They push you to answer moral decisions which impact each run, and deciding whether to do the right thing morally or the right thing for your progress is something that will happen a lot.

There are also moments where you have to race against other drivers for a bit of money, go for a chilled out drive just to clear your head, or escape the cops after your wanted level is too high. The driving in Heading Out is rather fluid, and I rarely found an issue with turning or drifting. These sections also run to the length of a song and not a start or finish line. You have to make sure you win by the time the song ends, and with such a fantastic soundtrack that features a variety of genres, the driving ended up becoming one of my favourite parts of the game.

It’s surprising how little driving you actually do in Heading Out, though. Of course, there’s enough for you to remain fresh and sharp to the challenges, but much of it plays out when viewing the map. It takes the form of a grid that covers the entirety of North America. Every time you cross a state line, your police notoriety decreases, and when you arrive at the next destination, you can buy items to help improve your far or regain focus. If you’re not focused it can affect your driving, and a damaged car will hinder your road trip. You can also accelerate across the map, but it will cost more and potentially draw attention from the cops.

Certain citizens might also give you a task like delivering something for them to a location, and by doing so you’ll get a bit of money. There are multiple things to think about and while you’re never overwhelmed by it, you’re always focused on the next step of your journey. It’s amazing how you have to think of the player as yourself, as before each act you have to answer personal questions about yourself that plays into the narrative. You don’t have to be truthful, but doing so makes it a much more personal experience and I was impressed by this attention to detail.

I was a big fan of the radio in Heading Out. There are different radio stations where the hosts all push their opinions onto you. Some aren’t doing so with any dangerous intent. They’re just sharing their thoughts on life, love, acceptance, politics, and other elements that make them who they are. It’s clever, and a astute reflection on the many facets of society in 2024.

Heading Out is one of the coolest games I’ve played this year. It blends all of these ideas and genres very well, and makes for great replayability. Knowing when to take risks isn’t always clear because of the harder questions the story beats pose, but it is this grey area that makes each playthrough so interesting. The driving sections might be relatively basic when it comes to controlling the car, but I still had a lot of fun driving through cities and the countryside while listening to a fantastic soundtrack.


Beautiful design
Engaging story beats
Awesome soundtrack
Interesting roguelike elements


Driving can be repetitive

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Heading Out is one of the most inventive games I've played all year, with plenty of replayability, great ideas, and an engaging story.