I remember hanging with Raul Vega, my friend and creator of ROSE DRIVE, at a bar and drawing a “choose-your-own-adventure” storyline on a napkin of how that type of mechanism could work in virtual reality. He challenged me and thought it could work in audio format. So I went on to show him classic “walking simulator” games like, WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH, FIREWATCH, OXYENFREE, and more. Now, I don’t know how much of this bleeds into his podcast, ROSE DRIVE, but I couldn’t be more proud of the world-building that he has created. His series is the closest a listening experience has come to that video game genre, outside of Fede Álvarez’s, CALLS.
ROSE DRIVE plays like a cross between HER STORY, KENTUCKY ROUTE ZERO, and ALAN WAKE. I can visually picture the sleepy town the story takes place in, Southhampton, to be that of Stephen King’s Castle Rock.
For the most part, each episode has the faulty narrator-protagonist, Markus Hill (Aaron Cavette), interviewing a cast of characters in his hometown. Markus is trying to figure out his sister’s murder while tracking down his prime suspect, Forrest Sutherland (Max Lloyd-Jones). Vega borrows the walking narrative mechanism throughout most of the interviews, allowing listeners not just to hear what’s spoken but also the character’s thoughts. This device adds a creepy layer as each interviewee has motives to keep the truth hidden.
We are currently in the golden age of narrative podcasts, and ROSE DRIVE is at the top of my shortlist for one of the best in the genre. And if you think I’m biased towards the 19-episodes due to my friendship with the creator. You’re mistaken. This podcast is science fiction horror at its best.
The best narratives feel familiar while adding something new. ROSE DRIVE feels like the genres and content I’ve mentioned, but also it brings a unique viewpoint to the space. I’ve actively played the ROSE DRIVE storyline in video games, but I’ve never had the opportunity to sit back and listen to it passively. This medium offers a chilling perspective that allowed me to feel the twists and turns leading up to the shocking three-part finale. I could only use my imagination while listening, which is far scarier than any videogame graphics.
Do yourself a favor this Halloween. “Put your headphones on. Turn the volume up. Pay Attention.”
It’s available on all platforms that carry podcasts. I listened to it on Spotify.