University of Utah

The Geekwave

University of Utah

The Geekwave

University of Utah

The Geekwave

Follow us on Instagram!

Pacific Drive – Review


From Steam

Pacific Drive developed by Ironwood Studios on paper shouldn’t work. Pacific Drive marries many survival systems from a handful of other survival games and mashes it into one huge game set in a supernatural setting where you drive a beat up and rundown station wagon. However, these systems come together nearly seamlessly to create a truly unique experience. It’s testament to the talent at Ironwood Studios that the game comes together as well as it does.

Pacific Drive immediately drew me in with its unique world and concept. It’s mysterious, exciting, and sometimes even terrifying and by the end of my playthrough I was swept up in a masterfully told sci-fi adventure. Here is my review for Pacific Drive.

From Digital Trends


Pacific Drive starts off with a bang. As you drive through a heavily forested area of the Pacific Northwest you come into a pretty sketchy area. Soon enough you are sucked into a portal and dropped into a mysterious place called the exclusion zone. A walled off chunk of land overrun by what are called anomalies, otherworldly beings and phenomena that roam the zone.

Scientists who have stayed behind in the zone soon reach out to contact you. You find a new car and a base of operations and the scientists that contact you over the radio are keen to help you find your way out of the zone, but not without using you to run a few experiments first. 

You soon find out that the car that you’ve found is an anomaly itself that has bonded to you. When an anomaly chooses anyone, they start to go insane. This fact gives you personal motivation to get out of the zone. What ensues is a well told sci-fi story that I can most accurately describe as weird. 

The mystery of the world that Ironwood Studios has built immediately drew me in. Learning about what happened in the zone and what the anomalies even were was constantly exciting. The story however, never loses sight of the human aspect in all of the sci-fi madness. The other scientists that you listen to on the radio are all expertly voice acted. Their characters have emotional arcs and complex backstories that unfold as you progress through the story.

I would describe the way that the story plays out in Pacific Drive as very similar to that of Subnautica’s story, another albeit very different survival game. As you progress through the game gameplay wise you get tads of story progress that keep you interested and driving you forward so you can get to the next story beat. These smaller story beats lead up to very cool set pieces that test gameplay skill which makes them exhilarating.

The way the story unfolded thoroughly captivated me, and I would recommend the game solely based on its narrative presentation.

From GamesRadar



Pacific Drive is a survival game through and through, but there are also rouge-like elements mixed into its survival formula. Its gameplay revolves around scavenging runs into the zone. There you collect and scavenge upgrades for your car and your base of operations. At the end of each run you must then extract. This involves activating a portal located somewhere else on the map. You then have to rush to the portal before time runs out. If you fail to do so you lose all of the materials you collected in your run. During some of the runs you will have a story objective that usually involves completing a set of objectives that culminates in a thrilling set piece.

These scavenging runs start off short but as you discover more of the zone they can stretch up to an hour or more in length. This gradually increases the difficulty curve as the longer a run the more materials and progress you stand to lose by the end of it.

A big part of Pacific Drive is your relationship to your car. This car is the only vehicle you will drive as you venture into the exclusion zone. To be frank, at the start of the game it’s a piece of crap. It’s hard to drive, it looks ugly, and constantly breaks. Sometimes you’ll randomly just have a wheel fall off and you will have to reattach it or create a new one. As you progress and collect more materials on your scavenging runs you will unlock improvements to your vehicle that will in turn increase your chance of survival in the exclusion zone.

Some anomalies in the zone will also cause your  car to gain “quirks”. These quirks will impose strange functions to happen to your vehicle. This could be that the wheel constantly turns to the left or that your radio can never be turned off and thus drains your battery. You have to manually diagnose these quirks at your base of operations to see them fixed. Your base of operations is just a garage in the safe parts of the exclusion zone. You can upgrade the garage to help research new parts for your car and tools for scavenging.

You will spend a lot of time upgrading and swapping out pieces of your car. This means you will be spending a lot of time inside menu systems and will invest hours into scavenging and scrapping parts of cars in the zone. This will make or break the experience for some players as it could become monotonous. For me however, I found it relaxing and I have always enjoyed this aspect of survival games. When you go out into the zone on a run with your newly upgraded car and the tools for the job it feels very satisfying and this is due to the time and investment that you have put in up to that point.

I also enjoy how the story and gameplay merge in Pacific Drive. Like I mentioned before, your character in the game has been chosen by the car that you drive. This process will slowly drive your character insane and in turn make them more obsessed with the car and its well-being. As a player you slowly become as invested in the car as your character is although admittedly for different reasons. This story detail however, really synergizes you with your character and is a bit of a fourth wall break. As you take a step back after a play session and realize that you have spent 2 hours maintaining a car you can’t help but question if the car has chosen you as well.

All in all if you enjoy survival gameplay and high stakes rouge-like elements you will enjoy Pacific Drive’s gameplay.

From Steam


I want to take a second and give a shout out to the art and sound in this game. Pacific Drive’s art design and sound are superb. They are essential to making the world that Ironwood Studios has made believe and sufficiently spooky. The Pacific Northwest is a very fitting setting for the exclusion zone. The fog hangs over the dense forests just right and the heavy blues and oranges make for a subtle horror vibe. 

The score and soundtrack are also amazing. The score has triumphant highs for the set pieces along with moody lows that set the ambiance as you explore the long abandoned exclusion zone. Pacific Drive’s art design and sound soars. 

From PC Invasion


Pacific Drive is a fresh take on the survival genre. I thoroughly bought into the story being told and found the gameplay rewarding and exciting. I will say that the performance isn’t great. At the beginning of the game I had to tinker with settings for 5 or so minutes to get it running smoothly. Even then there are drops in framerate when things get heavy gameplay wise. As I made progress further into the game I noticed this less often. I still thought that I would mention it. I would highly recommend playing Pacific Drive. It was most of the unique gameplay experience that I have had all year and am excited to jump back into its wacky and weird world.

Pacific Drive is available on PC and PS5. Don’t forget to check out Caitlyn’s article “How can we protect Young Readers Online?” and Jaxon’s review of Prince of Persia. For everything else geeky stay right here on Geekwave.



More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ronny Hammond
Ronny Hammond, Director of Online Publication
Ronny goes by he/him pronouns and is a Junior at the U. He loves to read and write and is currently obtaining his Bachelors degree in English and Game Design. He has a deep love for video games and would always be up talk your ear off about The Last Of Us. You can read up on his game reviews and listen to his guest appearances on the Crimson Gaming Corner and Wishful Thinking podcasts right here on Geekwave.