I'll be honest here — I'm not much of a car person, but I know what drifting is. This is probably because I remember spending some of my high school years watching a series called Initial D, which is all about illegal street racing in Japan, the birthplace of drifting.
For those who don't know what drifting is, it's when the driver intentionally oversteers, losing traction in the rear wheels or all tires of the car. However, you're still able to maintain control of the car and drive it right through a corner. Yes, it sounds complex, but you'll know what it is once you see it.
Absolute Drift is one of those zen-like minimalistic games that's all about the challenges of drifting. If this sounds like something up your alley, then keep reading!
The world of drifting
Absolute Drift on iOS is actually a ported version of the game that's available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One. With this in mind, the iOS version comes complete with "Zen Edition," originally released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One back in 2017. So all new content that got added back then is already included in the mobile port.
With Absolute Drift, players find themselves in an abstract kind of world with a dash of structure. There are five free-roaming areas that you can simply drive and drift around in, and they each have a unique theme and stages. These range from traditional airports and docks to a surreal floating metropolis.
The tracks carry the spirit of each area and are designed to be challenging to players. Each track's packed with curves and obstacles made for drifting around, so there's no shortage of zen-like drifting here.
The gameplay in Absolute Drift is a nice mix of things, all things considered.
As you start out, you'll find yourself in various themed free-roam areas. There are a few things you can do, such as finding the hidden "x" blocks scattered about or even completing certain missions on the stage. The missions include goals like drifting between two structures, jumping over an obstacle, and other things.
However, the meat of the game lies within the tracks. You can consider the tracks as the levels of the game, and there are 34 in all. However, to gain access to later ones, you need to complete enough missions in the free-roam area before gaining access to the next area.
To get started on a track, just drive your car into it. There's a mix of tutorials and standard tracks and events as well. The tutorial stages are to help you learn new game mechanics, and the regular stages help you apply what you've learned and test your skill.
Every level contains about five objectives, such as earning a specific score threshold, completing certain tasks (drift past five clip zones, do 20 drifts, etc.), getting multipliers, and more. Oftentimes, you'll find yourself replaying a track a few times before all goals are completed, but this just adds to the game's overall replay value.
You earn points for successfully doing drifts, grazing clip zones, doing donuts, spinning in designated zones, and more. As long as you don't crash or mess up, you'll get multipliers that increase your score as well. This is definitely a game that takes time, patience, and practice to fully master.
As far as customization goes, you're able to drive your car through a "Paint" garage in the free-roam zone to get a randomized color paint job. More cars get unlocked as you progress, with all of them having their own handling specifications. That means some cars drift better than others, but you need to earn them.
For the most part, the controls of Absolute Drift on iOS work out alright but do take time to get used to.
The bottom left has two buttons for turning your car left and right. In the bottom right area, you'll find buttons for accelerating, reversing, and braking.
Personally, it took me some time to get the hang of things, even though everything's laid out simply. To successfully do drifts, you'll need to understand when to let go of the gas and just steer, because it's not just about speed. Doing this causes you to spin out a lot (I speak from experience), so it's all about control.
If the touchscreen controls aren't your thing, Absolute Drift fully supports MFi controllers as well, bringing it more akin to the console versions.
Visual and audio design
Absolute Drift carries a minimalistic aesthetic that is sure to appeal to those who appreciate the low-poly, simple and clean art style. While most of the game's drenched in hues of white, beige, and gray, the splashes of color of various objects and your car's paint job balance it all out.
As we mentioned earlier, each area features a different theme. Even with the low-poly graphics, I think everything's rather detailed and easily distinguishable from each other. I found the animations in the game smooth and fluid, though I did experience some choppy frame rates at times, though I'm fairly certain that was due to my device.
To top it all off, the soundtrack in Absolute Drift fits the theme perfectly. Players get over three hours of hypnotic drum and bass electronic beats, which I find to perfectly compliment a game about drifting, which originated in Japan. All tunes are composed by C41 and Nyte.
To be honest, I can just leave the game open just for the music sometimes, which I actually do.
Even though I'm not a big car person or racing game fan, I still find Absolute Drift enjoyable. I'm a big fan of abstract, minimalistic designs, so the graphics here appeal me. Plus, the music's fun to listen to. I also like the fact that while this game is challenging, there's not much pressure because you're not racing anyone besides yourself (ghost mode), and there's a lot of practice involved anyway. It lives up to the zen part of the "Zen Edition."
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
By Tammy Rogers