It feels like ages since we’ve had a decent arcade racer on PlayStation. Quick thrills often take a back seat to realism and vehicle calibration. Thankfully, Belfast-based dev Level 91 has channelled the likes of Burnout and Ridge Racer for its neon-drenched title Inertial Drift.
There are no comprehensive difficulty modifiers here; no tweaking the weight distribution of your chassis. Here you simply throw a car around corners at ridiculous speeds, all the while trying to focus as primary colours streak across the screen.
The game has a simple central mechanic, one that it eases you into generously. Tracks are built for drifting and the usual racing controls apply. The hook is the addition of the right stick, which controls drift angle. At first, it feels unnatural, with the front end locked in place, you use both sticks to slide the back wheels into a natural arc. After a few laps, it becomes second nature and you can focus on coping with the exhilarating feeling of speed Inertial Drift offers.
There’s a generous selection of modes to choose from right from the start, including split-screen and online multiplayer, complete with leaderboards. The story mode, meanwhile, offers a decent way to learn the ropes. Difficulty directly relates to the vehicle of your chosen driver, with each having a specific set of benefits and challenges. Edward’s Terra Dart can easily sail through any track and doesn’t require any advanced stick techniques. On the other hand, Ibba’s HPE Dragon is a heavy beast that needs careful throttle control to get the back wheels spinning enough to even start a drift.
This being an indie title, the visuals aren't anything special and this can sometimes feel closer to a mobile racer. However, the retro-future artstyle makes up for the budget production values. There’s a healthy set of tracks to be tackled alongside their mirror variants (including a gorgeous city course that recalls Special Stage Route 11 from Gran Turismo). It sounds good, too, thanks to a lovely soundtrack.
All in all, Intertial Drift offers a fun variation on drift racing with a broad level of challenge. A great visual style and plenty to do distract from the somewhat low-budget execution.