Drifting, when done right, can be absolutely thrilling. There’s nothing quite like tearing round a corner with razor-sharp precision, and everything from Mario Kart 8 to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit relies heavily on your ability to execute drifts successfully. Absolute Drift is all about drifting; you don’t race against opponents at all, and in fact, you’re actively encouraged to take your time and lift your foot off the pedal, focusing instead on high scores and multipliers.
Displayed from an isometric viewpoint, Absolute Drift features a selection of miniature vehicles, all of which have real weight to them, and you can also customise these with multiple paint jobs and decals. The aim of the game is, of course, drifting; you gain points by drifting around corners, accumulating more points the longer you hold the drift. Bonus points are awarded for clipping posts as you drift, and travelling across a designated line highlighted on the track. The free-roam mode also tasks you with specific assignments, such as drifting between two structures or pulling off donuts and spins.
There’s a massive learning curve when you get started with Absolute Drift; we spent a good chunk of time slamming into walls, spinning out, and even flipping over on some occasions. It’s frustrating, and the game never really gives you any pointers aside from the odd vague tip during the loading screens. Even the tutorials – which by nature should guide you into executing a particular stunt correctly – simply assign you a task and expect you to accomplish it without any guidance.
Eventually, though, the gameplay just clicks, and when this happens, it really is a joy to drift around tracks. This is where the ‘zen’ aspect comes in; initially, we were genuinely a bit stumped as to how this game is even remotely relaxing, but when you start gliding around the tracks, you sort of sink into a feeling of immense satisfaction. It’s quite remarkable, and in this sense, the devs have absolutely succeeded.
In terms of presentation, the game is a bit of a mess. The visual style is quite minimal, which we suspect is in keeping with the whole ‘zen’ aesthetic – and we do love how the tire tracks have been designed to look like a rake running through gravel. On the flip side, the soundtrack is completely at odds with the rest of the experience. We would have expected some chilled-out, Japanese-inspired tracks, but instead, we’ve got incredibly upbeat dance tracks that just don’t fit in with the overall tone of the game. From a technical standpoint, we also experienced multiple crashes and had to quit out of the game entirely.
Absolute Drift is the kind of game that can quite easily provide a good hour or so worth of entertainment on a rainy day. Our fear with this one, however, is that the learning curve is so brutally steep, it may put you off before you even properly get into it. If you do manage to power through, though, it’s a genuinely relaxing, satisfying experience. It’s just a shame the game is hampered by poor design choices and crippling technical issues.