Five years after Absolute Drift, Funselektor have found themselves behind the wheel once again. This week, the minimalist driving developers released a free demo for Art Of Rally, a top-down distillation of the (objectively best) motorsport that takes Absolute Drift's textureless powerslides and lets them loose on delightfully toy-like Nordic forest tracks.
A car is a car is a car, whether it's drifting through a blocky dreamscape or slamming sidelong into a Finnish Spruce.
I've resigned myself to never driving in real life, but racing games are a sort of guilty pleasure - rally ones more so, where the only opponents are clocks on a leaderboard, and each turn arrives with rhythm-game pacing. There's a nice flow to a good racer, something Absolute Drift's drum-and-bass powerslides demonstrated wonderfully.
Art Of Rally might remove some of the gamier elements (and the awkward orientalist "Zen" framing), but nailing hairpin turns and long, drifting curves is just as satisfying in the Finnish woods as it is in a textureless blockscape. It's all a bit more grounded, mind, with plenty of options for tuning up your ride - but electronic beats to study/crash to are still here, this time courtesy of Ukrainian artist Tatreal.
It's a lovely distillation of more complex Codemasters rally 'em ups. All that's missing is the gentle drone of the co-driver barking five left, jump ahead, hairpin right. Right before a misplaced turn yeets us into a ditch.
Funselektor is currently distributing a free demo over on Itch.io, giving you one Finnish track to tear down in two cars across various weather conditions and time of day. The final game wants to pack in 60 stages over 5 countries, with a full career mode that'll get you behind the wheel of over 50 cars.
Thank god they've got the brilliant wee photo mode in first, though. Those are priorities I can get behind.