Heading Out

Posted:  May 06, 2024
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This game was tested with a Steam Deck LCD. OLED testing is coming soon.

Heading Out was provided by Saber Interactive for review. Thank you!

Heading Out is a pretty unique game. It's a driving game with some roguelike elements, focusing on an overarching narrative over four acts. The game is heavily inspired by the 1971 cult classic movie Vanishing Point, with even one of the scenes in the mid-game being lifted directly from the movie. But how does the whole thing play? Let's find out!

The premise of Heading Out is to reach your destination before your fear (the red) reaches it or catches you!

The premise of Heading Out is to travel from 1 destination in the United States to another. Your "fear" is chasing you the whole time, so you must keep moving and plan your route accordingly. The game is split into 2 main sections: the map of the US, where events will happen as you continue on your journey. You'll also need to manage your "focus," which you can restore by sleeping or taking certain substances, and your car's condition, which can be damaged by crashing in the driving sections.

Heading Out is designed to be played several times, unlike most roguelikes who go for the hundreds. You're here for the narrative, and while some of the events can be interesting, I feel like there's a fairly finite number of them, and after a couple of playthroughs, you've likely seen them all. That being said, the game takes place in a sort of time loop, and you'll essentially play the game 4 times across the 4 acts, progressing the main storyline each time and getting slightly different events.

The events make up the bulk of the actual gameplay. At certain points along the world map, you'll encounter events where you have to decide what to do, whether you'll sacrifice some money or time to gain reputation or fame. The events are voice-narrated, which is nice and adds to the game's feel. Each act seems to have its own event set that can happen to prevent repeats during your playthrough. Still, if you went back and played Act 1 for a second time, you'd quickly run into repeated events, further emphasizing my feelings of Heading Out being a one-and-done type of game.

Some events are dictated by your choices at the beginning of each act. The game asks personal questions about your life, such as who your best friends are, whether you had a good or bad childhood, etc. However, the game recommends choosing random answers if you don't want the game to hit a nerve.

Heading Out asks you questions about yourself and will tailor some of the narrative to your choices.

Given that Heading Out is a driving game, we should probably talk about the driving, right? Well, I'm pleased to say that the driving in Heading Out feels pretty nice. It's a mix of realism and arcade driving. The car has some weight to it, not responding to your every whim, but it is not so realistic that it becomes difficult to drive with a keyboard or gamepad. I saw some people asking if the game would support steering wheels, and I would not wish to play Heading Out on my steering wheel; the car just doesn't drive in a manner where the somewhat sluggish nature of a steering wheel would be good to use.

Events on the world map will trigger driving scenes. Often, they take the form of a street race for money to boost your bank account or a police chase if your wanted level has gotten too high from your choices during events or if you choose to speed on the world map to outrun the fear that is chasing you. Of course, if your fear does catch up to you on the world map, it will trigger a driving scene where you have to outrun your fear.

Heading Out's driving model feels on-point. The car feels weighty but is still easy to drive.

I chose to play Heading Out in the balanced difficulty setting or Medium, as most games would call it. An Easy and a Hard difficulty are set as well. I play driving/racing games a lot, and I found the Balanced difficulty fairly easy, with my fear never catching me, and I never lost a race or police chase once in my playthrough. So, if you're after a challenge and are good at racing games, play on the hard difficulty setting. But if you're just in the game for the storyline, the easy difficulty shouldn't pose much of a challenge to most players.

The story itself is interesting. The developers were inspired by films like Groundhog Day and the aforementioned Vanishing Point. The game's premise is to outrun your fear, which chases you wherever you go, and reach a destination on the map to "race the best driver." However, as you are about to win, the time loop resets and the next Act begins.

The story seems grounded in someone having difficulty moving on from experience, with each Act revealing more of your character's background and perhaps their motives for running from their fear and wishing to challenge this mysterious "best driver."

Each act you complete unlocks new threats, events, and a car available for the next act.

Visually, Heading Out adopts a sort of "noir" feeling, with nearly the entire game being black and white, and your fear is represented by a red aura whenever it's near. It's a decent art style and fits the game's setting well: the 1970s.

Heading Out doesn't disappoint in the audio department, either. Throughout the game, you'll often listen to radio shows broadcasting news stories about you and your escapades. The stories will change depending on your choices during certain events, such as if you decide to help or hurt someone. All the races and chases in the game are tied to the length of a song. The songs aren't particularly memorable, background music if anything, but it is an interesting premise, and the length is just about right for a race, usually around the 3-minute mark.

Depending on your performance, you'll receive fame at the end of the driving sections.

I found Heading Out to be an interesting narrative experience. The voice-acted events are interesting, accompanied by art and choices that are sometimes difficult to decide. The game's premise is also interesting: having to keep on the move and plan your route so your fear doesn't catch or overtake you. This is backed up by a solid driving model that's entertaining and works great for gamepad players.

Heading Out - Steam Deck Performance

You'll be pleased to hear that most of the performance concerns pre-launch for Heading Out seem unwarranted. The game runs at the Steam Deck's native 1280x800 resolution. It has great controller support for all the menus and gameplay sections. The only thing that counts against it that's specific to the Steam Deck is that some of the text is small and difficult to read. Frustratingly, the text I found most difficult to read was the event text, possibly the most interesting (and lengthy) text to read in the game.

But let's dive into how the game performs on the Steam Deck, and I can offer you 2 presets today: one that prioritizes framerate, where we can get 40 FPS, which I recommend, and another that prioritizes quality, which runs at 30 FPS.

I did consider making a battery life setting. Still, upon experimenting by running the Recommended settings below at 30 FPS, there was only about 2W less power draw, and it wouldn't have added any life to the battery.

Recommended Settings - 40 FPS

Lock your framerate in SteamOS to 40 FPS / 40 Hz and set a TDP limit of 10W.

Heading Out has a very basic graphics settings menu, so I won't be showing a reference screenshot this time. Keep your resolution at 1280x800, set your Quality to Low, and turn off V-Sync and Anti-Aliasing. With the game's art style, I could see no aliasing on the Steam Deck's display, so having AA enabled seemed like a waste of resources.

Even with the low-quality settings, the game still looks pretty good, thanks to the unique art style the developers have chosen. There are some slight stutters occasionally, but these seem pretty unavoidable on the Steam Deck.

You should expect a consistent 40 FPS with these settings. The battery draw isn't too bad, hovering between 16-18W when in the driving sections and often below 10W on the world map. Because of the large difference, it's hard to estimate, as it depends on what events you are given, but I would say it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect 2.5 hours of battery from a Steam Deck LCD and at least 3 hours from an OLED model.

Temperatures were between 60-65C, so not particularly hot.

Quality Settings - 30 FPS

For quality settings, you'll need to set SteamOS's frame limit to 30 FPS / 60 Hz and the TDP Limit to 15W.

In the in-game graphics menu, you'll want a resolution of 1280x800, the graphics quality set to High, and again, we'll disable Anti-Aliasing and V-Sync.

The main change we see here with the graphics quality on High is the addition of reflections to the car body, and also, textures see quite an uplift in resolution. Ultimately, I'd rather have the 10 extra FPS and battery life than gain these visual niceties, but it is an option for those who want it.

The stutters are perhaps more frequent here, likely because VRAM usage can exceed 6GB, which is pretty insane considering the type of game it is. The game does remain playable, though.

Again, on the world map, the battery drain is pretty low, usually below 10W, but when driving, the battery drain in these settings is mostly above 20W and can reach as high as 25W. Therefore, you'd expect no more than 2 hours of battery life from a Steam Deck LCD and 2.5 Hours from a Steam Deck OLED.

Again, temperatures fall in the 60-65C range, although they tend to stick around 65C after being in a race for a while.


Heading Out offers a separate font to help those with dyslexia, although, on the Steam Deck, it seems to make the text even smaller, so I don't recommend using it. You can also disable camera shaking; of course, there are difficulty options, too.


Heading Out is an interesting narrative driving game backed up with solid driving physics and various events to keep things fresh through your first playthrough. Playing the game to completion would take the average player less than 8 hours, and I don't know if you'd want to return and do subsequent playthroughs, but those 8 hours will be fairly enjoyable.

The aesthetic created here all work together beautifully. The radio shows with hosts detailing events surrounding the player, the look and feel of the cars, the black-and-white filter—it all works well and is good at immersing you into the world.

To top it all off, the controls work wonders on the Steam Deck. I had no issues with anything, and although performance is a little bumpy, the game can be played just fine at 40 or 30 FPS, depending on your preference. You just might need to squint a little to read some of the text!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Heading Out is an interesting narrative driving adventure, the controls work beautifully on the Steam Deck, and although there's stutters, performance isn't bad either.


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Oliver Stogden
Oliver began playing video games at an early age, starting with the SNES console and Commodore Amiga computer. Nowadays, his interest is in the future of portable technology, such as handheld gaming systems, portable power stations/banks, and portable monitors. And seeing just how far we can push these devices.
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Quality Settings - 30 FPS



Refresh Rate




TDP Limit


Scaling Filter


GPU Clock


Proton Version

No Forced Compatibility

Game Settings

Resolution: 1280x800

Graphics Quality: High

Anti-Aliasing: Off

V-Sync: Off

Projected Battery Usage and Temperature

21W - 25W

60c - 65c

~2 Hours

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