HANDLE WITH CARE
- Out now
- Released for PC, PS4, Xbox, Switch, Android, iOS.
Picture the scene. You’re in a small loader with just enough room for a driver and a few packages. As you grasp the controls with your stumpy little arms, you feel the entire thing shift dangerously. It’s because your friend and delivery colleague has climbed on the roof. Another is in the back, clinging to the deliverable item with their dear life. The route is a perilous slope downhill. On one side is a straight drop into a crevice, on the other the ocean. Before you can scream “Jesus take the wheel”, the loader hits a stray pebble. The package rocks violently and explodes. It is, after all, TNT that you’re delivering.
That’s essentially TOTALLY RELIABLE DELIVERY SERVICE in a nutshell. It’s every nightmare you ever had about how your packages are treated, wrapped up in a hysterically funny party game. You and three other players are let loose in a series of increasingly ludicrous locations — we’re looking at you, GASA — in the hopes that something, anything, can survive the transit. Rare few things do, but it’s always fun to see the attempts fail.
Physics is a dubious concept in the game. Everything works like it’s described by a 9 year old. Cars skid around as if you were controlling a cow in a shopping cart; fire extinguishers launch you into the sub-stratosphere just by touching them. Anything can be grabbed onto in theory, but how well your grip holds is another matter entirely. Eventually everything becomes a mad scramble for the finish line as the world itself spins against the way it drives.
The world is a multicolored playground of simple shapes and sizes. There’s a quiet brilliance to the presentation, mainly because everything only needs to elicit an emotional response above all else. See that mountain in the distance? There’s a slider at the top. You know what to do. Discovering each little detail brings hours of joy, and there’s a childlike glee to just touching everything you find to see how it will react.
Working with friends is a riot, especially if you’re not fooling around. Like playing Tetris blindfolded and drunk, the experience feels surreal every step of the way. You’re sure that the package fits into this trunk — so why are things exploding? You didn’t drive that fast into this wide and generous turn — so why is your car upside down and taking the scenic route into the Pacific? Such mysteries are impossible to explain, but you’ll be too busy laughing to care. The controls are fiddly by design, yet they don’t feel frustrating. Much in the same way how parody is a genre that is extremely hard to get right, so too is making a game deliberately tough to handle. But TOTALLY RELIABLE DELIVERY SERVICE pulls it off. It never stops being funny that everyone has a perpetual case of butterfingers.
The game is available on all major platforms, including Android and iOS. We played it with four people on the PC online (as good social distancing dictates). The experience was terrific fun, but I can’t help but feel that it will be even better on a split-screen as couch co-op. Like a game of virtual twister, it’s an experience best shared for the immediacy. It probably won’t last you long on any single play session, though there’s surprisingly a lot to do, but that’s not the point. TOTALLY RELIABLE DELIVERY SERVICE is like a secret weapon you pull out to spice up the evening. Even after you’ve seen everything the game has to offer, it still pulls you in.
Sometimes it’s just necessary to see people fall down.