You Suck at Parking Review: Controlled road rage

You Suck at Parking by Happy Volcano is a puzzle driving game and features fiendishly challenging level design and riotous online multiplayer.

You Suck at Parking’s title is a bit presumptuous. I mean, I’ve never claimed to be the next Ken Block, but at the same time I don’t think I’ve ever stopped a wheel from maneuvering.

Oh wait, no. Come to think of it, I once scraped a friend’s car along a gas pump base, so maybe I’m actually bad at parking.

Whether you’re turning into your local parking lot using the handbrake or have never driven a car, one thing’s for sure – within the first 30 minutes you’ll be spinning around, running out of fuel and hitting barriers.

That’s part of the appeal. Fail, fail again, and then finally sweet, oh so sweet success.

You Suck at Parking is a top-down driving game from Belgian studio Happy Volcano. The goal, somewhat predictably, is to find parking. You traverse small but devilishly designed levels analogous to a platform game – only with four wheels and a motor.

Each level lasts only a few minutes, the goal is to find the two or three parking spots and stop inside or just on the lines. You must complete this task within a time limit and without running out of fuel.

If you crash, fall off a cliff, or even explode into pieces, you can respawn instantly and press or restart the level to achieve that perfect golden score. Both are instantaneous, and that lack of encumbrance is what makes it so grumpy. That and the online leaderboards associated with each level.

Strangely, there is no reverse gear. Shoot beyond space and crash into a barrier, that’s a reset for you.

You suck at parking game 02

You’ll bounce back and forth between each failed attempt and keep trying to park in each level’s spots without requiring a second try. There’s even a semi-open world, the Overworld, that you navigate through and find each new environment containing groups of levels.

It’s not essential to hit all the gold squares to advance – much like three stars in an Overcooked or Two Point game – as long as you park on each square within the generous time limit, you’ll still make progress.

But it’s extremely satisfying to hit every spin, hairpin, mine, jump and fan without even having a scratched body.

Each map amplifies the absurd nature with giant magnets throwing you off ideal trajectory or boxing gloves knocking you off the edge. It gets to the point where it takes a handful of runs to find the parking spots, let alone perfect your first run.

They suck on the parked ice cube

But this driving caper never gets frustrating enough to give up. There seems to be some difficulty (sometimes you can hold on to a challenge for half an hour and then complete the next one with your eyes closed), but generally it falters right side reachable.

Likewise, vehicle handling is benign, its accessibility slightly tempered by an ultimate lack of precision. The slightly elastic answers at least leave some room for error.

With over 100 levels out of the box and more promised post-release, the ingenuity of the level design never ceases to amaze. Just when you think you’re on the move, there’s a police chase or you’re turned into an ice cube…

Vehicle selection is small and there is no performance benefit to switching between a sedan and a van, for example. Speaking of cosmetic changes, there’s a Parking Pass that works the same as F1 22’s or Rocket League’s Podium Pass.

You suck at the Parking Parking Pass

As you play through challenges or online games, you progress through levels which in turn unlock items to refresh your vehicle’s appearance. Whether paint colors, paint stripes, traces or explosions. There’s of course a paid tier for even more visual bells and whistles, and these are updated each season.

Either you don’t give a monkey, or you’ll be mad about it. It’s not essential, so more power for the development team to find a way that potentially generates revenue without restricting the game or offering paid levels. There’s also a bunch of cosmetic upgrade packs you can buy outright if that’s your thing.

Of course, the real long-term appeal of Parking Pass will be online multiplayer, something that wasn’t part of the initial demo, which launched in early 2021. The mode followed the game’s delay to 2022 and subsequently increased investment.

You suck at online multiplayer parking

In all, up to eight players take on some of the game’s crazier level designs over four rounds, with the goal of being the first to park in all nine spots.

It’s hilarious, wacky, and indeed the video game form of Boxing Day parking lot wrangling. Luckily, unlike the real world, you won’t get caught up in a yelling, or worse, an angry letter from an insurance company…

Combined with the XP spent and Park Pass progression, this is the main dopamine hit that will keep you coming back to the game over and over again.

However, one minor catch at the moment is the lack of pairing with your friends list, which will come sometime after the game’s release.

They suck at the design of the parking level

A curious omission that was part of the earlier prototype versions of the game is a level builder. This could have fostered a community of gamers who would create even more devious layouts that anyone could play. I liked that idea, but apparently now there’s multiplayer and unlockable skins instead.

That being said, there’s more than enough here to keep you occupied well beyond what you’d expect for a $19.99 / £15.49 release, plus the promise of continued support long after initial launch.

It all boils down to how good the basic gameplay mechanics are, and as I sit here writing this review I long to fire up the game and perfect more levels.

You Suck at Parking is a delightfully characterful game with bewitching level design, accessible handling, and an obsessive sensibility.

The Traxion.GG review verdict: Wish list

developer Happy volcano
release date September 15, 2022 (PC and Xbox, 2023 for Switch and PlayStation)
Available Platforms PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (PS4, PS5 and Switch to follow)
version tested personal computer
Best played with it gamepad

Full Disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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