When it comes to the racing genre, I like the weirder games, the ones that try to rethink what a racing game can be. You can keep your Gran Turismos, your Forzas, your Need for Speeds, and even your Mario Karts. I’ll take Trials and Crazy Taxi and Turbo Golf Racing over those other ones any day of the week.
You Suck at Parking falls into the latter category. It’s a fun, modernized take on the isometric racing genre where the entire point is to park as quickly and cleanly as possible.
That might sound simple, but there’s a lot working against you. There’s a time limit, which forces you to go as quickly as possible. You can’t reverse your car and have a limited amount of fuel, so get stuck, dilly dally, or overshoot your parking space, and you will have to start again with a new car. There’s also a ton of obstacles to impede your progress or outright destroy your vehicle. If that happens, you once again have to start all over with another new car. On top of all that, the game’s driving mechanics feel great, but they aren’t the easiest to master, especially when a track involves a lot of precise drifting.
When first starting the single-player campaign, getting the “perfect parking” accolade—where you only need one car per parking spot—is pretty simple. Most of the early courses act as tutorials for You Suck at Parking’s main mechanics, gradually acclimating you to the kinds of tricks and traps that it will start to throw at you more and more. But as you get further along on your journey, not only does the volume of obstacles increase, but so does the difficulty. Pretty soon, you’ll have to avoid getting PIT-maneuvered by tiny cop cars while swerving magnets that will pull you into guardrails that blow you up on impact.
By combining different obstacles with track designs that seemingly never repeat, You Suck at Parking ensures a wide variety of experiences based on a straightforward foundation of simple mechanics and a clear goal. A few of the obstacles—like gates that will teleport you to different parts of the tracks—can occasionally break up the flow and detract from the experience by trying to be too clever, but they rarely have an overwhelmingly negative impact on gameplay. While some of the game’s obstacles can trigger some creative swearing from the player, even the most needling ones feel like hilarious pranks rather than truly unfair game design choices.
It’s good that You Suck at Parking’s tracks offer a lot of variety, because there are a ton of them in the single-player campaign. Between the game’s two main biomes, several different islands, and bonus levels you unlock by “perfect parking” standard tracks, there are over 100 different tracks to complete and several times as many parking spots between all of them. For the single-player mode alone, that’s a lot of value, without even talking about the game’s multiplayer component (which I could not find a full server for prior to launch).
While I never exactly became bored with You Suck at Parking, the game started to get a bit monotonous around the halfway point. That was less due to the gameplay and more due to the game’s art design.
The simple but colorful graphics work really well in a game that’s all about speed and readability, so they’re not the issue. What made the game start to feel monotonous are the repeated visual designs for the tracks. There are two main types—normal asphalt tracks and iced-over asphalt tracks—that both repeat their respective visual motifs ad nauseam. It becomes boring to look at, leading to a sense of visual fatigue. While there’s actually a ton of variety in the design of the tracks, the visuals almost make you feel like you’re playing the same tracks over and over again.
You Suck at Parking could also use a few more menus, especially in the overworld section. Instead of giving you the option to select a track you want to replay from a list, you have to physically drive your car to the right part of the overworld to find a particular level you want to replay. This might not sound like that big of a deal, but given that the entire point of the game is that driving is hard and that you can’t reverse, navigating your car around the overworld—which has its own set of obstacles and leaps of faith—can be really frustrating.
Customization, which should be a highlight, is also hindered by a season pass system. This isn’t to say that You Suck at Parking’s developers don’t deserve to drink from the microtransaction cup like everyone else, but there’s something that feels icky about having a season pass before the game even launches, especially with an unproven new title. It doesn’t detract from the game too much, but I was a little disappointed by the relative lack of cosmetic unlocks I earned in over a dozen hours with the game so far.
As I previously stated, I haven’t had the chance to try out You Suck at Parking’s second half, which is its multiplayer, so I’m holding off on publishing a scored review until I can try it out. But so far, I’ve had a blast with the game’s single-player. The tracks are fun and creative, the concept is simple but effective, and I still feel like I’m mastering the game’s mechanics. It’s definitely not perfect, and feels especially unimaginative in the visual design department, but if You Suck at Parking is as fun in multiplayer as it is in single-player, then it’s going to be one that fans of weird racing games should definitely look out for.
Update: Multiplayer and Final Review
While You Suck at Parking’s single-player is essentially a fun and expansive, if not slightly monotonous, collection of levels, it’s the multiplayer that should really provide its sense of longevity. Unfortunately, even though the core of the multiplayer experience is solid, it’s lacking in features, modes, and variety, despite already offering a season pass system.
The idea behind multiplayer is simple: Instead of one player trying to park in all the spots on a level, you have up to 8 players competing to be the first to do so. The levels in multiplayer are generally a lot smaller and less challenging than those in the campaign, but there are way more parking spots to fill in the same amount of time. All of that, on top of the pressure of trying to beat seven other players, adds to the chaotic fun of the mode.
As fun as multiplayer can be, it leaves a lot to be desired. There are very few maps available right now, and while they’re all well-designed and fun to play on, there just aren’t enough of them. By my second multiplayer match, I was already re-experiencing some levels. Developer Happy Volcano has released a roadmap that promises new maps in the future, but there just isn’t a lot to experience at launch.
What also makes the multiplayer feel slight is that, on top of the limited number of maps, there’s just the one mode that you can play. Yes, “parking” is literally the name of the game, but that doesn’t mean its multiplayer couldn’t experiment with its satisfying driving mechanics and physics system. Standard racing, demolition derby, or even an isometric Rocket League–style soccer mode are not only possible with what You Suck at Parking offers, but would probably be really fun and add a lot of replayability.
Plus, other modes would probably make it feel like you’re actually playing against other players, instead of just alongside them. The weirdest part about You Suck at Parking’s multiplayer is that it doesn’t feel like you’re really interacting with the other players. Sure, you will occasionally bump into them and maybe even trigger a trap that blows them up, but none of it feels all that purposeful. Besides, it’s hard enough just parking in 10 spots in two minutes that there’s not even time to try to mess with anyone else.
What would have made more sense is to have players fighting over a series of individual spots. As soon as the first spot is claimed, the next spot opens up and then everyone races to park in that one. That way, players would constantly be competing over the same spot instead of playing parallel to one another. As it stands now, the multiplayer feels like an uneven extension of the campaign more than a separate, distinct experience.
If You Suck at Parking were just trying to be one of those games where you keep it installed because it’s a fun distraction for 15 minutes or you occasionally play it with friends, the lack of content and creativity in the game’s multiplayer wouldn’t bother me so much. But because Happy Volcano is offering a season pass, that turns it into a game that should make more of an effort to keep your interest for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, You Suck at Parking just doesn’t have the depth or breadth to be that kind of game.
Images: Happy Volcano
You Suck at Parking introduces a creative twist to the isometric racing genre where “stopping” is the entire point. Its campaign is surprisingly extensive, with enough new obstacles and traps introduced throughout to keep things interesting. Unfortunately (and surprisingly), it’s the multiplayer that lets the game down by not offering enough variety or reasons to keep coming back, even with a season pass hanging over your head.
E - Everyone
|You Suck at Parking is available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC. Primary version played was for Xbox Series X/S. Product was provided by Happy Volcano for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.|
Michael Goroff has written and edited for EGM since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter @gogogoroff.