Inertial Drift is set in a 90’s retro-future, players, as Edward, Ada, Ibba or Viv, will be tasked to master their drifting skills through various events such as races, head-to-heads, and time trials. The story is told through comic book-like cutscenes where the characters will interact with one another.
Inertial Drift is a racing game where the focus is on its drifting mechanic. What makes it stand out from the other racing games where drifting plays a part, the drifting here is done via the right joystick; so while breaking, instead of using the traditional left joystick to guide your ride throw the curve, you do it with the right joystick; unfortunately, it feels cumbersome and counter-intuitive, especially after playing racing games the traditional way which will take sometime before most players get comfortable with this new mechanic.
Thankfully, the game doesn’t rely solely on doing drifts across various circuits. Each level of the story mode features four events: practice (optional, but recommended), time attack, ghost battle and race. Every time you reach a new map, it is recommended that you practice a bit in order to get a feel for the circuit, especially for the drifting parts. It is best that you make use of the practice race as the game won’t cut you any slack. In order to progress through each event, you need to reach one of the three targeted times (Gold, Silver or Bronze); it requires near-perfect racing in order to succeed as failing means you have to start over.
Along with Story mode, players can tackle Challenge mode to unlock 16 rides with their own unique characteristics. You can also give Arcade mode a shot where you can race in custom events and post the results to the global leaderboards if you feel like bragging. With Grand Prix, it puts players through five events across various circuits. Those looking to play with friends will be happy to know that the game support online multiplayer and local split-screen.
When you reach the race event of the map, this is where it gets even harder and more frustrating. Unlike racing sims, there are no tweaks to be done to make the game more forgiving and approachable. If you mess up your start, the A.I. cars will zoom out of sight faster than you can say drift. Once again, if you can’t perform near-perfect drifts and hit a wall or two, you have little no chances to catch up.
While the game doesn’t sell itself as a racing sim, the controls sure feel like it. While the game focuses on drifting like crazy around the game’s 20 tracks, it’s near impossible to simply take a simple turn even at low speeds. For those unfamiliar with the drifting world, some small turns or curves might feel too tight for drifting so the logical move would be to simply turn, but it’s impossible and adds a layer of frustration as you’ll end up scraping against the wall.
Inertial Drift features a unique cel-shaded visual which can be reminiscent of Auto Modellista; Capcom’s take on the racing genre, that was released in the early 2000s. The cel-shaded look is complemented by a synthwave, early 80s color palette and gives one of the most unique and visually interesting racers. The game also features a synthwave soundtrack; which fits suits its appealing visuals. While there seems to be a resurgence in the 80s inspired sound, Inertial Drift’s soundtrack, while upbeat and perfect the game, it’s quite forgettable.
Inertial Drift is a unique racing/drifting racer, but it feels counter-intuitive. While the game does have a reasonable amount of content aside from the drifting mechanic, it takes a while to get used to and the A.I.’s frustrating difficulty makes it a hit or miss. Personally, I found myself frustrated more than anything. I applaud the developer for taking a chance, but unless you plan on spending hours on end on this game, it’s a pass.
- Great and unique visuals
- Unique drifting mechanic…
- …which feels counterintuitive
- A.I. is brutal