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Wheels of Aurelia Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Whether you call it a visual novel, graphic adventure or driving game, Wheels of Aurelia is unlike anything I've ever played before. I thoroughly enjoyed the colorful locations and spirited conversations, as well as the many twists and turns the story threw my way. It's not always easy to keep a conversation going when driving down Italy's coastal highways, but I'm a big fan of the style and love how different each playthrough can be. I have a hunch that Wheels of Aurelia is going to stick with me long after this year has ended. Rating: 71%
Wheels of Aurelia
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  • Review Score:

  • B
"That's not a real game." If you're like me and have reviewed multiple visual novels and walking simulators, then chances are you've heard somebody get up on their soapbox and howl about what makes a real game. For a certain part of the community, games driven almost entirely by their narrative are dismissed for not being interactive enough or not having a fail state. It makes me wonder what people like that would think about Wheels of Aurelia, a brand new visual novel that combines the fun of dialog options with the excitement of a long road trip.

Okay, so maybe that doesn't sound like the most compelling way to spend an afternoon, but I have a hunch this charming little adventure will win you over by the end. Wheels of Aurelia is a dialog-heavy driving game set in the late 1970s. You play Lella, a secretive Italian woman with a penchant for driving fast. She has hit the open road to help a fellow traveler get medical help in France. This sets up a fascinating story that involves car chases, big revelations and lots of hitchhikers.


Wheels of Aurelia is not an easy game to categorize. On one hand, it's a visual novel where you're constantly asked to make dialog choices and play out the story. However, there's also a driving component that includes everything from racing jerky men to tailing suspected terrorists. You do all this while still trying to hold up a conversation with Olga and the other passengers. It's a mixing of genres I never thought would go together.

Between the branching conversations, congested traffic and Italy's scenic coastline, there's a lot to pay attention to at once. The story plays out depending on what you say from moment to moment, and the game gives you a couple options to choose from. Sometimes it's obvious where the dialog will take us, but there are a lot of surprises and revelations hidden in the choices. The story will change and evolve based on what you say, who you pick up, the route you take and even how well you drive.

There are sixteen different endings in all, each with their own unique stories that speak of the social issues of the era. Without giving too much away, this is one of those road trips where the light back-and-forth banter quickly turns to heavier topics. The developers use this drive to explore issues you rarely see broached in video games, and I think it's handled with a lot of care.

Wheels of Aurelia (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Mechanically, Wheels of Aurelia is far from a great driving game. Between the limited controls and the fact that your car will literally float through on-coming traffic, it's impossible to call this a realistic experience. It's clear from the opening moments that the driving was always going to be secondary to the conversation, which is why I never had an issue with the unrealistic mechanics.

Whether you call it a visual novel, graphic adventure or driving game, Wheels of Aurelia is unlike anything I've ever played before. I thoroughly enjoyed the colorful locations and spirited conversations, as well as the many twists and turns the story threw my way. It's not always easy to keep a conversation going when driving down Italy's coastal highways, but I'm a big fan of the style and love how different each playthrough can be. I have a hunch that Wheels of Aurelia is going to stick with me long after this year has ended.
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