Nearly every driver who has ever driven late at night has experienced this: You’re the only one on the road, when suddenly, another car appears behind you. Your mind begins to irrationally fearing what would happen if that car wasn’t just going the same direction, but it was chasing you.
The demo for Beware, an in-development PC game by Ondrej Svadlena that was previously known as Driving Survival, shows you exactly what happens when that fear becomes reality. The demo is still in its very early stages, but it captures so much of the tense, ’70s movie-style car chase scenes that it draws inspiration from.
I started the game in the middle of the night in the center of a muddy trailer park. As I pulled my car onto the road, the slick and uneven ground immediately made me feel uneasy. That feeling was furthered by the utter lack of any other signs of life or noise, except for my car’s engine and the sound of my wheels trying to gain traction.
As I slowly drove away from the park, I eventually ran across a lone facility drenched in light. At first, my mind was put at rest, knowing I wasn’t alone in this dark forest. That’s until I drove past the building and saw a flash of light behind me. It was another car. An ominous bassline began to play as the car drew in closer in my rear view mirror.
As it came even closer, my car become flooded with the shine of its headlights. This was something that always made me feel uncomfortable when I drove at night. When this happens in real life, it almost feels like you’re at the mercy of the car behind you. Their headlights feel more powerful than yours and you can only drive where their light shines. Beware easily recreated that anxiety for me, especially because I knew this vehicle was following me.
Nonetheless, I was able to keep moving forward, even being able to put some distance between me and the other car. Eventually, the vehicle stopped tailing me and instead, pulled past me and got in front of me. That’s when I noticed the driver wasn’t alone.
Inside the car were several others dressed in what looked like clown masks. Once they got in front of me, they seemed focused on trying to drive me off the road. They would make me stop short, which made me swerve out of control or weave so badly I almost hit a tree head on. Soon enough, their plan worked as I skidded off the road so hard, my car careened into a massive mud patch. I was stuck.
All I could do was desperately look around as I saw the shady characters stop, turn off their lights and storm my car with flashlights pointed directly into my car to blinding me. Then they rushed my vehicle and it was all over.
Beyond simply trying to stay alive, Beware offers up some open-world exploration, with several puzzles to solve and characters to come across. The whole story itself isn’t clear, as the game is still very early in its development, but its impact as a spooky driving sim feels completely polished.
Driving at night is scary enough, especially when you’re struggling to keep your car on the road. All my anxieties about late night drives felt completely realized in this short demo. It’s been years since I’ve driven down a wooded and lonely road at night and the demo for Beware makes me never want to do it again.
You can download the demo for Beware right now for Windows PC.