Life is more fun when you’re on your back – not that we’d know anything about that. Inertial Drift – a name so close to plagiarising legendary anime Initial D that it instantly earned our respect – argues that it’s actually more entertaining on your side, as this so-called twin-stick arcade racer trades on taking corners at 90-degree angles.
Due out next year on the PlayStation 4, the cel-shaded aesthetics are instantly appealing. While the environments aren’t particularly impressive from a raw technical perspective, this title has artistic heart, with one particular track set against a neon-soaked Tokyo-esque backdrop. The visuals are dripping in 90s nostalgia, but it actually reminds us of PlayStation 2 cult classic Auto Modellista from 2002 – Google it if you’ve never heard of it before.
The thing that sets this game apart, though, is its unique handling model. You accelerate in the normal way and turn using the left analogue stick, but in order to properly navigate the corners you need to use the right-stick in conjunction to kick out the back of your car and glide like you're on ice. One mission finds us in a direct head-to-head with an opponent; another in a time trial-esque setting.
But what’s fascinating is how each car operates completely differently. While the core premise of twin-stick control remains consistent, one checkpoint-based arcade objective sees us commandeering one of the release’s harder to handle cars; this requires us to brake often and almost feather the drift. After a few attempts, we’re able to almost glide around the circuit entirely on our side.
It proves that this concept has been developed beyond the initial idea: with each car controlling completely differently, there’s depth in addition to merely using the right-stick to slide. Speaking to one of publisher PQube’s representatives we’re informed that this was one of the primary objectives behind the project; you need to learn how to handle each vehicle effectively, and the skills you’ve built up with one automobile will not necessarily transfer to another.
That’s a good thing because, while the artstyle gives the game plenty of identity, its visuals will only take it so far. Having to relearn the rules of its twin-stick drifting system with each new unlocked vehicle will keep the action fresh, though – and judging by how challenging some of these cel-shaded beasts are to tame, you’ll need to be sliding for a while before you master every automobile.
Will you be slip, sliding your way into Intertial Drift come its release on PS4 next year? Go sideways in the comments below.