App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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It’s not often that a driving game isn’t about racing, but that’s exactly what Absolute Drift is. Developer Funselektor Labs has made a game where the key to doing well isn’t much about speed at all, and instead tasks you with sliding as smoothly as possible around corners and doing all sorts of other stunts. The concepts behind Absolute Drift are really awesome, but they only really feel like they come together if you have a controller to play it.
Absolute Drift is set in a super minimal version of Japan that is full of courses for you to test your skills at drifting. There are race tracks with smooth curves, shipping container obstacle courses, and airfields full of all sorts of things to weave your car around. Instead of trying to post quality times in any of these spaces though, you’re simply trying to score big by pulling off combos of elegant drifts and other maneuvers.
All of this action takes place from the isometric perspective, and it quite a sight to behold. Absolute Drift uses a sparse color pallette to fill in its world, and the result is striking. Your car is always easy to pick out in the mostly white world, while objectives glow red and a trail of your car’s path follows behind you in the form of tire marks.
Open and closed courses
Whenever you boot up Absolute Drift, your car is immediately let loose in a relatively open world full of objectives. There’s no particular scoring here, but you can unlock new areas by doing things like gathering hidden items, drifting between specific objects, and landing impressive jumps.
Scattered throughout these areas are gates that you can drive into to load into closed levels. Some of these might be race courses where you need to concentrate on making a smooth driving line, while others might just be a playground of obstacles for you to drift around to try and rack up a huge score. All of these modes end up having their own, satisfying amount of challenge, thanks mostly to a clever multiplier-based scoring system and fantastic driving model.
Out of control
Although Absolute Drift is capable of being a great feeling driving game, it takes a lot of getting used to. The cars in the game are extremely loose-feeling, and you really have to take the time to learn how to wrangle them so you’re not constantly ramming into everything. After my time with Absolute Drift, I felt like I was a semi-competent driver, but only when using an MFi controller. Playing the game using touch controls still feels like an impossible task. The virtual buttons just feel oddly placed, and there’s no way to hold your device that makes you feel comfortable playing it.
Aside from this, Absolute Drift also has a couple rough edges in its mobile port. There are times when text doesn’t display correctly on menus. Also, the game doesn’t seem to register drifts correctly, and there are times when I haven’t lost a multiplier when thought I was supposed to. Most of these issues aren’t much of a big deal, especially in comparison to the issue of Absolute Drift’s touch controls, but they pop up often enough to be noticeable.
The bottom line
Absolute Drift feels positively incredible when you finally learn to coast around a corner in a perfect arc, but doing this takes quite a bit of practice and feels nigh impossible without a controller. If you happen to have an MFi controller handy and a bit of patience though, it can be a really rewarding experience that feels completely unlike any other driving game on the App Store.