Fast-paced games have existed almost as long as the medium itself. Space Invaders sparked the golden age of arcade games more than 40 years ago, and was quickly followed up with Asteroids, Pac-Man, and countless others. The joy of arcade gaming was the speed—play until you die, and reset within seconds.
More recent games, however, take a slower and more methodical approach to gameplay, generally in an attempt to make the player see more of the narrative. While this change is not necessarily a negative one—the slow pace of Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the reasons I love it so much—sometimes a fast-paced game is a necessity within such a busy schedule.
That is why American Fugitive is so great.
The game opens with a very quick cutscene and, before you know it, protagonist Will Riley is convicted for a crime he did not commit. Within minutes, he has escaped from prison. Little time passes until players are thrown into the game’s first mission—which, naturally, only takes a few minutes to complete (even quicker if the player decides to skip any of the game’s text-only conversations).
The fast-paced action of American Fugitive is immensely fun from a gameplay perspective, only requiring a few minutes of the players time for each mission. Players can jump in for a quick ten-minute gaming session and feel satisfied. More than this, though, the pacing makes sense for the game’s narrative. Will Riley is not a relaxed man who can casually enjoy his life; he is a fugitive and must keep several steps ahead of the law at every turn.
While the arcade games of the 1970s may have sparked the fast-paced action genre, American Fugitive takes this gameplay to a new level. The game’s narrative is simple and predictable but engaging, tempting the player to see it through to its conclusion. The open world is significant in its size and detail, with destructible environments and random pedestrians at every turn. The art design and animations are fun and cartoonish, adding texture to the game’s pacing that forces the player to stay tuned.
In an era of slow-paced, narrative-driven experiences, a fast, action-oriented title is refreshing. After the slow (but masterful) storytelling of yesteryear’s God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Detroit: Become Human, American Fugitive is just what I needed—and that is why it is one of my favourite memories of 2019.