You know when people refer to something as a ‘Whole Ass Mood’? Inertial Drift is that slang in video game form. Set in a 90s retro future featuring a host of performance drifting cars, Inertial Drift looks to change up the formula by introducing a twin-stick control system which empowers play to fine-tune their drifts. It’s a novel approach to drifting in video games, and it’s honestly one that pays off.
With over twenty tracks to choose from and sixteen cars, there’s plenty to see and do in Inertial Drift. The main bulk of gameplay can be found in the story mode, which tasks players with choosing between four different characters, all of whom drive cars with handling that varies in difficulty. Outside of the story mode, there are your usual driving game options which include time trials, style runs, free runs, ghost races and both offline and online multiplayer modes.
If anything, the story mode feels like a prologue to the rest of the game. It provides the player with the perfect opportunity to race and study each track, learning the intricacies of how cars handle and getting to grips with the game’s numerous race styles. There is dialogue between each of the races, but it largely served as a portal for tips on how to drift more efficiently. I did like that the cast was quite diverse, but the conversations between them are ultimately forgettable.
The driving more than makes it for the story’s shortcomings. Inertial Drift kinda feels like a Ridge Racer game, but instead of steering with the left stick, you shift the weight of the car to drift around the corner with the right stick. I know that sounds a little strange, but you’ve just got to trust me when I say that it absolutely works. You only typically steer on straights or as a way of counterbalancing your drift by turning the wheel in the opposite direction of the way you’re drifting.
Tracks start off wide and forgiving, providing players with plenty of space to drift, but by the end of the story, tracks are narrow and winding looking more like something out of a rally stage. What’s magical about Inertial Drift though is that you’ll have totally got to grips with the way game handles by that point. You can throw the cars around in a way you wouldn’t have thought possible upon starting and that’s what makes this game so fantastic.
I really enjoyed the way Inertial Drift tasks players with approaching tracks in the story mode. Rather than having a single race and moving on, each track has a number of warm-up races and events before the final one-on-one race. This system kinda reminds me of the way a lot of motorsports work with racers having warm-up days and practice laps in the run up to a race day. It’s a fantastic system that enables players to get closely acquainted with each track before going into the final event. If you truly want to excel in Inertial Drift, you’ll need to know the tracks inside and out.
The visual style takes a lot of queues from Initial D, with its cartoony sun-soaked city scapes and futuristic modded cars. The whole aesthetic is very retro future, which fits the premise of the game perfectly, giving it a very unique style. That simplicity means Inertial Drift also performs incredibly well. My PC averages 220-240 FPS without any hiccups or issues, running as smooth as butter on my 144hz monitor.
Inertial Drift accompanies all of the action with a funky electronic soundtrack, but it’s the sound design that really stands out. Rather than going for ultra-realism, Inertial Drift’s cars sound loud and powerful, playing into the fantasy of drifting these absolute beasts with some of the best car sounds I’ve heard in a long time. I especially enjoyed going through tunnels; it’s one of the best noises you can hear in the real world and it is faithfully reproduced here. I also noticed that you can hear the wind bouncing off walls as you drive past them, with directional audio for added immersion. These little touches really shine in the moment to moment gameplay of Inertial Drift, elevating it beyond a simple driving game.