Drifting in motorsport has hugely grown in popularity over the years; now being regarded as it’s own entity, a motorsport of skill, precision and drifting on the edge of control. Indie developer Flippfly’s Absolute Drift: Zen Edition takes all these elements and puts them in to a beautiful minimalist environment, combine this with an excellent chilled electronic soundtrack and you treated to a unique and challenging gaming experience.
As soon as you load the free-roam mode a well presented minimalist environment is clear to see; pure whites splashed with bursting blues and vibrant reds to make for a tranquil and welcoming sight. Free-roam promotes some nice exploration, requiring you to complete various mini challenges to unlock the next world. These tasks start pretty simple, drift under the a bridge or around a pole, but as you progress they require a solid understanding of the drifting mechanics.
Other than these intriguing mini challenges there are larger drifting events scattered around the world. These events fit in more with the conventional racing game format, providing you with a circuit to drift around, and boy-o-boy is the drifting hard. There are five challenges linked to each event, with between 3-4 events per world. The events vary between drifting, driftkhana and mountain drifting, each require a different approach. Completing these challenges allows you to unlock a midnight drift for that world; these midnight drifts are a highlight of the games, requiring perfect precision with limited visibility to come out victorious.
You soon come to realise that this is a game of precision, not power. Drifting effectively requires the perfect synchronisation of speed, timing, braking and counter-steering, taking a fair bit of practice to get right. However, the moment you link these skills together and triumphantly glide sideways around a hairpin feels very rewarding; I felt like every crash was one step closer to nailing the perfect drift. As you drift your way through these well designed circuits you leave contrasting tyre makes in your wake; at first I saw these as just an aesthetic touch, but soon realised they provided instant feedback on how to achieve the perfect drifting line.
Anyone who fancies being competitive then fear not. Absolute Drift: Zen Edition provides every event with a leaderboard, you can even select a ghost from the top score in the world, this is great to see the different drifting lines other players take. I found myself saying ‘just one more go to see if I can improve’, losing more time that I’d realised in the addictive gameplay.
The music in Absolute drift: Zen Edition fits perfectly within the minimalist environment. Consisting of relaxing electronic mixes, sometimes sprinkling in mellow DnB vibes. I would never have listened to this music on my own accord (nothing against it), but often found myself still humming the melodies long after I had turn the game off.
There is very limited customisation within the game, changing the colour of your car is about it. By completing all the challenges in a world also unlock a new car for you to drive in; a slight shame is that all the cars handle the same, they only offer a cosmetic difference.
Absolute drift: Zen Edition does an excellent job of combining both a racing and puzzle element to it’s gameplay. Exploring the five worlds and completing the mini challenges along the way won’t take you too long, however, becoming a drift master will. The addictive gameplay, simple but effective presentation and excellent soundtrack will continue to provide me with an excellent calming outlet between playing more extensive big title games games.