Cruising into the Unknown: An Exploration of Pacific Drive


Ironwood Studios developed an eerie first-person driving survival game. Kepler Interactive then published the game, which was released on February 21st, 2024. The game is available for PlayStation 5 and Windows.

Pacific Drive is set in the Pacific Northwest in a fictional area known as the Olympic Exclusion Zone. The zone is a horrifying outcome of a failed government experiment.

A Surreal Pacific Northwest

In the game, you have to grab the steering wheel and take on the role of a driver who needs to survive the exclusion zone. You must explore the bone-chilling areas and encounter lifeforms from the failed experiments. Moreover, you must scavenge for resources, upgrade your car, and fight supernatural beings.

The plot revolves around a nameless driver who inherited this rusty, beaten-up station wagon. The game takes you around a hauntingly beautiful eerie exclusion zone. The zone is embraced by an unsettling mist and unknown beings stalking you. The zone is also saturated with luscious green monster-looking trees. The abandoned buildings glimmers with mysterious dark energy.

Your Car as Companion and Conduit

The rusty station wagon is more than just your transportation vessel. It is your home, refuge, and lifeline. You will spend many hours upgrading your wagon into a monster-slaying machine. Of course, it won’t be easy if you have collected all the necessary items to keep upgrading your weapon. Each upgrade will be considered a progression.

The car is also one of the primary conduits to the Zone’s secrets. The vehicle has a radio that sends cryptic messages that might help you find artifacts, secrets, or enemy information. Moreover, it hints at hidden locations and offers a quick glimpse of the Zone’s history.

The wagon’s headlight pierces the darkness to reveal all the creepy lifeforms lurking to get a hold of you. Moreover, the car’s dashboard provides vital information about the car’s condition.

Metal Monsters and Unnatural Anomalies

The Pacific Drive does not shy away from throwing unique horrors your way. The Zone is infiltrated by skin-crawling enemies, which are made of metals. The grotesque creatures are, of course, drawn to your car’s energy. They try to latch onto your car, causing it to drain power.

If you don’t crowd control, your vehicle will be severely damaged. Each encounter will feel chaotic and insane. The game requires quick reflexes and strategic moves.

The unpredictability of these hazards adds a layer of tension to each exploration, making every drive a nerve-wracking thrill ride.

Unraveling the Mystery

The actual depth of Pacific Drive lies in its narrative mystery. The Zone has many abandoned research facilities. The research facilities are now home to many metal monsters. The streets of the Zone are scattered with personal belongings and many cryptic messages. These scenarios make the game look like a silent horror waiting for the perfect jump scare.

You must piece together all the cryptic messages to finally solve the mysterious truth behind the area. Some may be filled with government conspiracies, scientific hubris, and the disastrous consequences of tampering with unknown forces.

The narrative unfolds organically through exploration and environmental storytelling, avoiding traditional cutscenes. The lack of explicit answers adds to the game’s intrigue, leaving players to ponder the Zone’s true nature and the fate of those who came before them.

Mechanics that Matter

Pacific Drive’s core gameplay loop revolves around a satisfying risk-reward system. Every adventure in the Zone promises valuable resources and information. Of course, you need to venture out to get upgrade material. Upgrading your car allows you to explore new areas and encounter new enemies.

You need to start managing your resources and prioritize repairs. It is inevitable to not get attacked by monsters. So, the most you can do is minimize the damage and make calculated decisions.

The game provides a good balance between exploration and combat. Driving around and scavenging for resources is quite enjoyable. However, the adrenaline rush of facing several herds of metal monsters can also be thrilling.

A Feast for the Senses

Pacific Drive’s visual and audio design is masterfully crafted to evoke a sense of unease and wonder. The warped landscapes are rendered in Unreal Engine 4. It is beautiful and unsettling, creating a unique atmosphere long after you shut down the game.

The unsettling sound design features dissonant ambient music and unsettling creature noises. Moreover, it amplifies the tension and helps immerse you in the Zone’s oppressive atmosphere.


Pacific Drive’s journey concludes with a sense of closure yet leaves room for interpretation. This approach allows players to conclude the Zone’s true nature and the fate of its inhabitants. Pacific Drive leaves you pondering human ambition’s fragility and scientific exploration’s consequences.

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