The art of drifting is a meticulous endeavor, and Absolute Drift: Zen Edition provides the platform to test yourself on. A great challenge and beautiful artistic form make for an addicting little game. Climb curving roads that wrap around imaginary hills, jump gaps over planes and water, push to hold the record of every track with ranked leaderboards, and even try your luck with night time tracks. There is a lot of fun to be had, and the developers, Flippfly, did an excellent job perfecting all the details within. You can buy the game on Steam or PlayStation Store for $11.99.
The game is probably the most challenging minimalist game I've ever played. It's so simple in what you're intended to do and the controls are minimal, but perfecting it all is a huge challenge. Within my first 2 minutes of playing, I crashed into walls, spun out to complete stops facing the wrong direction, and restarted the level more times than I could keep count of. Hold the designated trigger down for gas, steer the car with the analog stick, and press the circle button for emergency braking to initiate a drift. Simple but difficult, and not to mention there is an option to include clutch control.
In order to perfectly execute a drift, you have to get the right amount of speed, the right angle coming into the turn, the right amount of drift, and just enough correcting to keep it going. The drifting is very accurate physics-wise, too much gas or not rounding out your drift enough will swing the back end around more than you want. Failed drifts are constantly reminded due to the skid marks left on the road (restart or continue having your shameful attempts thrown in your face).
Upon loading up the game, there are two game modes you can play; Free-Roam and Events. They both involve the progression of the other. For example, in order to unlock more events to play, you must access them through the worlds in Free-Roam, and instead of driving around the worlds looking for the race you need to attempt a couple times more, whether to achieve the goals or for record chasing, you can simply go to the events where it keeps track of the same progress made while in Free-Roam.
When playing in Free-Roam, you are driving around a sandbox of "worlds" divided by inaccessible bridges in between that upon completing enough challenges for one, will allow you to cross to the next. You can drift freely around and complete the small objective such as donut drifting around an object, drifting between two poles, and eventually jumping gaps and other structures. There are collectibles scattered around as well, which when picked up, let you know how many of them are left; another small objective.
When pursuing the events, you'll need to drive into the designated garages labelled with the name and design of the track. You'll find roughly 5 different tasks in each event dealing with acquiring a big enough multiplier, drifting close to the poles, holding a drift for a set amount of seconds, etc. You don't need to complete them all in one try; any objectives incomplete can be finished at a later attempt. Leaderboard ranks are important, and upon completion of an event, you will be told which percentile of the world you rank in for it. It's also possible to have a ghost car of the best attempt made by yourself or the top ranked individual's to push you competitively.
Other garages that can be driven into are for the Garage and for Settings (difficulty change, manual transmission, etc.). A few cars are available to drive, unlocking as you progress further, and offer different amounts of strength to the throttle. The cars are designed to look similar to popular drift cars like Hondas and Supras, but are called basic names like "Super." Several colors can be painted on the cars (black, white, grey, green, pink, orange, yellow), and a few standard decal skins.
Sound and Graphics
The game boasts a really good soundtrack; over 3 hours of chill electronic music, much of it with elegant female vocals. It's incredibly fitting to the atmosphere presented in the game, complimenting the sheer artistic flow of drifting in an elegant fashion. If you've ever played Flippfly's Race the Sun, you'll recognize many similarities in how the sound is used with gameplay. Ambient noises are minimal until there's a reason (like smacking into a wall).
The game screams art and this is evident in its bright colors contrasting the dark black tire marks everywhere you drive, even when flying through the air. When drifting like a champion, the curved lines look beautiful. The cars, while are standard in design and only come in a few colors and models, look sharp and stand out from the maps. Everything else around the game is built out of white, grey, and red colored blocks (the red to add a pop of color) which make it very easy to see everything as they should be.
Absolute Drift is an addicting challenge. Nobody will be good at it right from the beginning; it takes some time to learn how it works. After gaining the mechanics of the game, and with patience and attention, pulling off crazy drifts will be so artistic and beautiful that all the fails up until then will feel worth it. The game is simple yet provides more than enough ways of extending playability and enjoyment. Chasing for leaderboard ranks alongside phantom cars of the top drifter for each track only supports this statement. The music is just as artistic as the gameplay and makes for a truly elegant movie piece of art. Everything found within this game creates the ideal atmosphere for a truly relaxing gaming experience.
|+ Beautiful visuals and drift markings||– Steering can be confusing with the camera|
|+ Over 3 hours of chill electronic soundtrack||– Not much diversity for car aesthetics|
|+ Responsive and smooth controls|
|+ Helpful tutorials for everything|