Have you ever seen a Sumi-e painting before? There’s a distinct elegance to looking at a Sumi-e painting because of its minimalism. The use of a single color (black). The confidence in their brushstroke that this line is exactly how I want to look or even the ability to adjust when the stroke came out wrong. Being able to visualize the mystic beauty of the world with only greyed silhouettes. Able to use the void of the whitespace to your advantage, to give more meaning to the color on the page, instead of requiring color to fill all of the canvas.
This is probably why I picked up Absolute Drift in the first place.
The game exudes a Sumi-e aesthetic, keeping its use of color to a minimum to make let the shading and colors of the level speak for itself.
It’s a game where your tires are the brush and it’s the player’s job to build their confidence to let them paint a single clean stroke on the canvas. You do this by learning to drive your card sideways, so your sharper turns turn into sharper curves. You do this by learning to drift.
The game starts doesn’t really fail the player, but it does give the player challenges so that they can learn how to drift gradually.
Teaching you the basic of keeping a balanced speed, by reading how much oversteer and understeer you need to account for, by knowing how much speed you need to maintain in the turn so you juggle the tapping the accelerator and the handbrake.
The game gives you plenty of playgrounds where you practice drifting between objects, learning to control your car to get high speeds with small windows to accelerate, and maintain drift control by making donuts around the many objects in the playground.
Luckily the playgrounds are pretty diverse, ranging from cityscapes and cargo-yards to the quiet countryside. With the diverse landscape you get to learn to donut around a variety of large obscure objects like a Ferric Wheel or a Cargo Crane, jump over planes and rivers, or drift past between Containers and near fence posts overlooking the calm water.
You’ll need these playgrounds to practice because there are plenty of courses where you compete for point score on ranked leaderboards, but the leaderboards are inconsequential to the game because they aren’t even mandatory. However, you still use these tracks to test your skill on a more enclosed circuit. To see if you’ve learned how to control you brush more proficiently and make develop your confidence in painting your lines.
To get to that confidence you will fail, and you’ll fail a lot.
But the only penalty is the point multiplier that you’ve been developing. The point of the game isn’t for you to be too hard on yourself because of the failure, but to pick it back up and get better.
And after plenty of time, you fall out of yourself. You aren’t focused on the juggling of the gas pedal and the handbrake. You just see the road and see the path that you need to take. It’s in these few moments that you forget to about making mistakes and you paint the line that you wanted and find the real loss of self that Sumi-E tries to teach.
Blaugust Day 8