• The blissful, screeching pleasure of Absolute Drift
07.25.14

The blissful, screeching pleasure of Absolute Drift

When I was 17, my relentless quest for adrenaline saw me taking my light blue Citroen Saxo into a stony parking lot just off my college campus to bowl it around in circles. Tony, the guy who egged me on, went before me in his own second-hand car, creating a cloud of exhaust fumes and dust that I was eager to add to. We accelerated hard across the xeric ground, then turned dramatically and sharply while hoisting the handbrake up with a clenched fist, leaning into the curve with gritted teeth, while kicking the clutch in and out.

It was an aggressive noise of clattering stones and over-revved engines loud enough to attract unwanted attention, so we only had two goes at it each before clearing off. We took that slight risk just to spend a few precious seconds inside the flitting state between control and chaos known as drift.

The four tires of your vehicle trail black lines as if a tool for calligraphy. 

Drift is a unique concept in the world of motor sports. It's a technique originated in Japan used to throw off opponents during competitions, but has since become a sport in its own right, sometimes being the sole focus in exhibitions of skill. In videogames, it has been around as long as Mario Kart and Sega Rally has, and Drift Races are now a staple mode in most modern racing games. There being a whole videogame dedicated entirely to drifting was only a matter of time, and it's now arrived, in Absolute Drift.

It takes some getting used to. Your car is tuned to over-steer and loses traction at almost any turn. It's like trying to hold onto a wet bar of soap. So, yes, your first several minutes are dedicated to mastering the act of graceful chaos.

You're offered a couple of different modes to play with; either, freestyle sliding playgrounds, or racing around deliberately curvy circuits. Corners are lined with instruments that perform a tuneful melody if you knock into them as you drift. There are also stacks of boxes to crash into, limbo bars to drift under, and poles to spin around for bonus points. Ramps require that you hold a steady speed in order to clear the gaps they fringe. Straight lines are one of the game's biggest challenges.

The elegance of the slaloming courses and their clean lines is reflected in the astute art style. The four tires of your vehicle trail black lines as if a tool for calligraphy. Indeed, as you create messy squiggles and large curves with your drifts it feels a lot like drawing with a nib and ink.

Absolute Drift is currently unfinished, vitally missing the online leaderboards and its showboating Gymkhana mode. Yet its demos already win over once you've mastered the eager vehicle at your fingertips. It supports the kind of playful cadence that arcade racers occasionally touch upon when you outsmart a group of opponents with a handy corner maneuver. This is that blissful feeling purified, like the chemicals rushing through your head when barrelling across tarmac at 200 kmph.

Absolute Drift's demos can be downloaded on IndieDB. You can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.