Inertial Drift review – a unique and exhilarating arcade racer

What’s the best drift in the world of racing games? Maybe it’s the blue-blooded pair of Out Run, with its stick-induced shift that broke a thousand arcade cabinets, and OutRun 2, with its majestic arcs. Or perhaps it’s something more modern – Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit with its big-bottomed supercars, or Burnout which helped birth Criterion’s particularly weighty take on the artform. Whatever your own pick might be, I’d like to introduce a new contender to the debate: allow me to introduce Inertial Drift, a novel and exquisite thing.

The elevator pitch is simple – this is a twin stick racer – but requires a little more explanation. In Inertial Drift, your left stick steers as it does in many other racers, though if you depend on that alone you’ll soon find yourself noisily scraping along the walls. It’s best to think of the steering input as a modifier for your drift angle, that angle controlled with your right stick. And then it’s about working the two in tandem, maintaining momentum and as outrageous an angle of attack as you dare, glancing apexes with a side-turned nose.

That’s the fundamentals, but writing them down plainly doesn’t do justice to the glorious interplay between the two, or to where Inertial Drift takes them. It’s a game that asks you to put in a little groundwork – it’ll take at least half a dozen laps to start to get comfortable with Inertial Drift’s ways – but it’ll give you so much in return. Belfast-based developer Level 91 knows it’s on to a good thing with its core mechanic, and goes about exploring it in ever-exciting ways.

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