Do you know the phrase ‘Never judge a book by its cover’? Well, Drift 21 could well become the poster child for this On first inspection this looked like it could be a cheap cash grab style game. However, I don’t think I could have been more wrong if I tried.
What you have here is a game in two parts. You’ll get to take a car out on to the track and do plenty of drifts, enter competitions and more. But prior to doing that, you need to build and set up your vehicle of choice and that for me is where Drift 21 shines,
So let’s touch on the driving aspect first. Drift 21 both looks and feels the part. I can confidently say this based on my experiences with drifting in other racing games. I suck at that specific mode in almost all cases. So the fact I can barely string together more than one corner suggests to me that this plays just right.
It also looks pretty good. We aren’t talking Forza or Gran Turismo levels of polish and polygons. But it doesn’t look like a cheap afterthought either. I remember in the early 2000s I’d pick up some random off the shelf racing games that looked ok, but never like the box showed once you loaded it up. It is what I was expecting here, but far from it, in-fact Drift 21 sets a new benchmark for ‘lower tier’ games in the track and car model fronts.
There are plenty of opportunities to get out on the track too. Which is great, but for me, I’d have liked the option to ignore this and hand over to a ‘professional drive’ so I could concentrate on the part of the game that I really liked.
That comes from the garage based, car building sections. Here you get the basic car to work from and you’ll need to customise the hell out of it to get it ready for a track day. I expected something maybe a bit half baked here too, but again, Drift 21 manages to surprise in a great way.
What you essentially have here is the same sort of mechanics as you get in the fantastic PC Building Simulator, where you can get down to the smallest component and manipulate it in some way. Much like that game too, I found I was able to learn things I previously had no clue about.
Most of what you do is done on button presses, but you do need to select the right part, aim where to fit them, remove them in the right order, etc. Fitting a new steering wheel as an example means aiming your cursor at the right area and clicking to place. But to work on other parts sees you needing to the get the car lifted to get to the underside, or even removing the engine completely and working on it’s specially designed engine rack.
I honestly loved my time working on the car and the specific parts, it is wonderfully cathartic in nature and a lovely distraction from the horror show that is 2020.
There are, however some elements that do need working on. It can be a bit fiddly to aim at the right section with the game needing you to be a bit too accurate at times, with detection zones that aren’t quite generous enough. That is me being a little nit-picky though and it doesn’t take away too much from the overall experience.
The other part I think needs some work in the business parts. You do need to balance the books and turn a profit. Which means you need to buy the right parts, build it out, tune and perform to be successful. It all works well, but it lacked a bit of depth for me and I’d rather see the developers remove this entirely (or at least give the option), or lean much further into it.
It is still an early access game, so the scope is there to improve, what is already an excellently surprising title even further. Drift 21 clearly isn’t for everyone, but there is a fun experience to be had here and well worth checking out.