Rides With Strangers is an unsettling, first-person horror game that takes the killer combination of multitasking and jump scares as popularized by the Five Night’s At Freddy series and twists it to match a new creepy scenario: hitchhiking.
In Rides With Strangers, you play as a young woman named Elora as she heads out on her first major job interview after graduation. Her new prospective employer is located all the way across the state, so when Elora receives a late night call for an interview, she must leave immediately to arrive in time for the early morning meeting. However, when her old car breaks down on a sparsely travelled road, she must count of the kindness of strangers to get to her destination. Unfortunately for Elora, the types of people willing to give a young woman a ride late at night are not terribly kind.
Rides With Strangers‘ gameplay is broken up into two main segments: Hitchhiking and Riding. When in Hitchhiking mode, you must flag down passing cars and judge whether or not you can trust the driver. Rides With Strangers will be populated by a variety unique and sinister strangers to hitch rides with, each with their own personality and propensity for evil. When you find a suitable driver, you’ll enter Riding mode. Here, you must attempt to hold a “pleasant” conversation with the driver while juggling a variety of tasks such as turning on the radio, tapping speed limit signs to increase the car’s speed, and opening your window to help settle your nerves. Most importantly, you will have to visually monitor the driver to prevent them from attacking you. However, you will not be able to always keep your eye on the driver as watching them will fill your Sketch meter. Once that meter is full, you will be unable to prevent an attack.
Rides With Strangers hits all the right notes for a truly scary game, coupling its tortuously slow build-up of tension with some heart-thumping jump scares. While we do love seeing more female protagonists in games, we do question the developers’ choice to personify the main character as a young, attractive, “defenseless” woman, as it comes across as bit more skeevy than we think the developers intended. The concept behind Rides With Strangers comes across as a bit tone deaf, especially considering the ongoing reality of violence against women in modern society and the mainstream media’s inclination to only cover the cases of missing young, white, upper-middle-class women and girls. Still, with a deft hand and some help from more diverse viewpoints, Rides With Strangers has the potential to be a fantastically realistic and disturbing gaming experience.
The developers of Rides With Strangers are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to get their project funded. You can show your support by clicking the links below.
UPDATE: The Rides With Strangers Alpha Demo is No Longer Free To Download. It’s Now Only Available To Backers of The Kickstarter Campaign.