We’re quite sure game devs don’t go out of their way to make a bad game. Normally, a game’s quality – or lack thereof in many cases – is a direct result of budgetary limitations, time restrictions, unexpected bugs, and many, many more variables. It really feels, though, that We’re Five Games are playing some kind of elaborate joke with Totally Reliable Delivery Service, because this is one of the most frustratingly awkward, broken games we’ve played in ages, and we get the distinct feeling that this was the developer's intention – at least, to a certain degree.
You take on the role of a delivery driver within a bland, ugly open-world consisting of a group of small islands, tasked with delivering packages to their intended destinations in the quickest time possible whilst minimising damage. You’ll have access to a wide range of vehicles to assist in this task, including trucks, forklifts, helicopters, boats, and even hot air balloons. Or, if you wish, you can simply flex your muscles and carry the packages around manually. Either way, you’re going to have a pretty bad time.
Things get pretty hairy right from the start. Like many games, Totally Reliable Delivery Service lets you know the basic controls via simple pops ups as you’re walking around – it tells you that you can jump by pressing B, and dive by pressing A. We’re not sure whether this was intentional or not, but these instructions are blatantly incorrect; in reality, jumping is mapped to A, and diving is mapped to B. It’s baffling that the devs got such basic controls mixed up like this – our best guess is that these are the controls from the Xbox version, and they simply forgot to change them when bringing the game to the Switch, but a small part of us feels like they intentionally mixed the controls around to screw with players even more. If so, we’re not impressed, and we don't think you will be, either.
The simple act of delivering your packages is no better. Granted, the game deliberately throws as many obstacles in your way as it possibly can, including exploding manholes and tree trunks rolling down hills, but even a simple task like picking up a box and hauling it into the back of a truck is infuriatingly complex.
You directly control both of your arms, with the left mapped to ZL and the right mapped to ZR. In order to grab hold of packages, you’ll need to hold both buttons down, but then in addition to this, you’ll also need to hold down L and R to actually lift your arms up in the air. So, at various points in the game, you have to hold down all four shoulder buttons at the same time, which is as uncomfortable as it sounds.
The prospect of controlling such a wide variety of vehicles in the game is initially quite intriguing, but you’ll quickly come to learn that nearly all of them operate in the same way (which is to say, very poorly). Each vehicle has a single control stick you can grab hold of with either hand, and you simply move the corresponding analogue stick in any direction to move around.
If you’re smart about it, you could grab hold of the control stick with one hand and keep hold of your delivery with the other in order to minimise potential damage, but this is much harder to accomplish in practice. We lost count of the number of times our deliveries simply fell off whatever vehicle we were driving at the time due to no fault of our own – and in some cases the packages can explode on impact, meaning you’ll need to start over from scratch.
Completing deliveries successfully will grant you with money and a new cosmetic item with which to customise your character. There’s no apparent way to actually spend your hard-earned cash, so aside from unlocking new clothing and accessories, there’s little incentive to actually play the game as it was intended. You can completely customise your character right down to its gender, swapping out hairstyles, tops, trousers, and jewellery. Unfortunately, many of the items are locked behind paid DLC, and the game isn’t particularly clear in pointing this out – so you might choose a cool-looking new accessory only for the game to throw up a message asking if you want to go to the online store. It’s pretty egregious in its execution.
If you’re going to play Totally Reliable Delivery Service, we’d wholeheartedly recommend playing it with friends, if you can. Its intention is clearly to provide a bunch of laughs every time your delivery attempt falls to pieces, and whilst the game wasn’t necessarily built for co-op play, having somewhere there to share in your pain is definitely more preferable to going it alone. In all honesty, though, you’ll want to avoid this one at all costs. With more competent controls, this game would potentially fall into the ‘so bad, it’s good’ category, but as it stands, it’s just plain bad.
Totally Reliable Delivery Service feels like a bit of a prank. It’s a game so doggedly determined to annoy you with its infuriating control scheme, shocking graphics and poor implementation of DLC, we can’t imagine anyone genuinely enjoying it. The only scenario in which this would be a fun experience would be if you played it with a group of friends locally, but even then, the intended chaos of the game's ragdoll physics feels completely anticlimactic, and instead, it just feels like an utter waste of time.