Not every game needs to reinvent the genre. Sometimes, a game’s hook can be as simple as gently tweaking the preexisting formula. Instead of turning rally racing on its head, Art of Rally uses its great atmosphere to stand out from the crowd.
Upon booting up the game, the game grabs the player with its incredible visual style. Opting for a cel-shaded, minimalist look, the game looks like it could have been created in a kid’s toy box. The atmosphere is only furthered by a great soundtrack that accompanies the game perfectly. These stylistic choices do start to show cracks, however, when you begin to notice all the constant object pop-in in the world. Additionally, the lack of any major landmarks and the heavy reliance on reused assets and objects can sometimes make the world feel a bit copy-pasted.
For those unfamiliar with rally, instead of racing against other drivers at the same time, you instead race individually and compare cumulative times at the end. Art of Rally offers several modes to mix up the gameplay outside of its focus on rally racing. The standard career mode allows the player to familiarise themselves with each of the different tracks, while unlocking some new cars along the way. Although changing cars feels largely cosmetic, the universal driving controls are as solid as you’d hope. There are also time trials and online events to show off your racing skills to the world.
However, Art of Rally's standout mode comes from free roam, which sets itself apart as an exploration based option where you can freely drive in an open area and search for collectibles. While there are no rewards for finding everything, this mode is easily the most enjoyable, and it has potential for the series’ future.
If you’re a rally racing fan, Art of Rally will tick all the boxes. While there are some technical problems and free roam could have been expanded upon, it still delivers on a solid rally racer with a great atmosphere.