You wait around for ages, waiting for a non-serious or sim-lite racing game, and suddenly three come along at once. A couple of weeks back I covered Hotshot Racing, I’m yet to get an opportunity to try Inertial Drift but now we’ve also got Art of Rally, which, like Hotshot Racing, aims to take the genre back to the 90s. It does this through a variety of different ways.
Firstly, its visuals, everything is low-poly and clean lines, the pastel tones applied to the locations of its events bring on a wave of nostalgia, likewise little touches like the advertising boards lining the stages, one in particular which says “sake” on it but if you only glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it says “SEGA”. However, these are there merely to serve the core of the game.
Art of Rally has been created as a love letter to rallying, and so developers Funselektor Labs, have included snippets of history and built a career mode around the progression of the discipline from mostly amateur events in the 60s through the ridiculousness of the late 70s and 80s to the ultra-professional mid-90s, giving you access to some of its most iconic cars including Escorts, Lancia’s, The Quattro (as Gene Hunt calls it) to Colin McRae’s Subaru Imprezza, all done in a kind of Pro Evolution Soccer “we don’t have the license for these but we’ll do our best to get away with it” manner which also escalates to the competitor’s names.
This would be all for nothing if the game itself didn’t play well, thankfully then it’s utterly sublime. It’s just you and whatever car you’ve chosen from that season’s category against the road and a stopwatch until you reach the end and can see your placement. The bits in between, the driving, you know, the key part, are just so, so pure and lets you control the car almost like your dancing. You’re just permanently working at them, feathering the throttle, applying the brakes, correcting your steering, a tap of the handbrake to bring the back-end round on those tighter turns. There are no brash Kudos to act as a reward, just the deep satisfaction of having ultimate control over some of the monsters that people look back on when talking about the golden eras of rallying. All of this, combined with the sound of the turbos, the brakes screeching as they try to scrub off some speed, it’s all just utterly wonderful and perfectly delivers that feeling of being completely in tune with whats going on on-screen.
Add on to all of that other neat touches, such as the cars all having their own characteristics (I could not get the Quattro to co-operate during a slide, whilst the Sierra Cosworth spent most of its time with its backside hanging out and the unpredictable nature of the crowds that gather round on certain parts of the stages, pushing your heart in your into your mouth as you try and refrain from lifting, just a little bit, to avoid losing time, its a very special experience and one other rally games just haven’t quite captured even with all of their focus on realism.
Game titles can be odd things, they’re either really on the nose (This Is Football springs to mind) or they’re fairly abstract, art of rally feels like it should fall into the latter category, it could also easily be the former due to its visual style, however, it does both, this is rally driving as an art form and its pretty damn great.
Formats: PC (version tested)
Release Date: 23 September 2020
Publisher: funselektor labs inc
Developer: fun selektor labs inc