Inertial Drift, the latest title published by PQube and developed by Level 91 Entertainment. Deciding to take on the exciting world of drift racing with just a splash of Synthwave visuals will this be the driving game to drift into your heart or will it not even hit pole position? Read on to find out.
Inertial Drift is described as a dual-stick, arcade racing game, what this means is that every ounce of it’s being is the pole opposite of titles like Gran Turismo and Project Cars, this belongs with the Ridge Racers of the racing world but its control scheme is a completely different beast.
Now before we tackle that I want to touch on the visuals and the presentation of Inertial Drift which if I could score alone on that I would have to add several more stars to our scoring system. Remember the 90s, remember our future where everything was Neon much like the future presented in Blade Runner or the disco scene from Terminator?. Well, Inertial Drift is on that timeline, it looks amazing, so vibrant and colourful from the intro to the menus, it’s all steep in this beautiful Synthwave aesthetic, one that is criminally underused in gaming and Level 91 took that gap and plugged it wonderfully here.
The tracks range from the neon-soaked streets to the beautifully atmospheric mountain and country areas. What makes all this really work is the speed and fluidity of the game which even on handheld managed to maintain a smooth framerate and created the illusion of speed fantastically, docked the game practically made my eyes bleed with joy and the explosion of colours as they flew passed me.
The soundtrack perfectly suits the game, you’ve got blistering synth tracks to accompany you as your throwing your car around the many corners of the in-game world. All the sci-fi sounds with those beeps, thuds, and hip hop beats going on just makes you feel like you’re in the 90s future that we deserved rather than the current state of the world. Being this was one of my first experiences with the genre I’m more than happy with what was on offer and it has inspired me to branch out and find more of the genre outside of the songs Dr. Disrespect recently released (See I’m hip and trendy!)
So let’s talk about the control system in Inertial Drift and why it is so unique compared to other racing titles. As mentioned in the intro, this is a twin-stick racer, if you have played a Twin Stick shooter you may have a slight idea of what to expect. The left stick slightly moves you to the left and right but not really enough to tackle any of the corners here, instead, you move your right stick to throw yourself into a drift position. It’s down to you then to adjust speed accordingly and hit the right angle to get you round that corner and keep up your speed. Initially, you’ll meet the barriers quite a bit but once you nail that perfect drift into a perfect run the feeling is beyond euphoric.
The game features a whole heap of content Tutorial, Story Mode, Challenges, Arcade, Grand Prix, Split Screen, Online, at least 20 cars, and around 15 tracks. The story mode is quite lengthy fusing the racing with visual novel style writing as you follow the exploits of the in-game characters racing around the city trying to enter the competition and make a name for themselves.
There are online leaderboards for you to dominate and every car handles differently so you could be there awhile trying to find the car that is perfectly suited to your style of driving. The Arcade, Challenges, and Grand Prix modes are great to pick up and play modes without the story content and naturally split-screen and online allow you to throw down on your favourite tracks.
There are 7 different race types ranging from time attack to race and even endurance which has you racing the clock to get round the fastest much like Outrun. One thing that really stuck out in the races is that there is no car collision, this is mentioned in the story as to why but can sometimes feel like you’re permanently playing a Ghost Race rather than actual other racers.
Now, to be honest, I’m not mad on the racing genre, I don’t mind it and have enjoyed titles from it before, if Inertial Drift didn’t have the visual style it did or give me slight Initial-D vibes I wouldn’t have given it a second look. Fortunately from the presentation to the gameplay everything just naturally fits, aside from the feeling of racing Ghosts, there isn’t anything really negative I can say about the game. It is an Indie title and the price is more than reasonable for the amount of fun and content you can get from the title. If you like the look of the art style and don’t mind a bit of the racing, you’ve got a real contender here in Inertial Drift.
A picture-perfect slice of 90s futuristic drift racing. Ride the Synthwave!