So yes, I kind of talked about Absolute Drift yesterday, but not really to any analytic sense. I really only touched on the game’s philosophy and stylings. The aesthetic likeness to Japanese Sumi-e art and building up an artistic confidence that experience plus loss of self-doubt can only bring. (Post here)
This is more to focus on what the game does and doesn’t do well.
Music fits with the loss-of-self motif that the visuals try to portray. The tracks consist of Electronica ranging from Hardcore to House but all have a distinct Trance element to them. The Trance element is helpful to have because, while you have something with energy to listen to and vocals to keep you interested, the Trance portions make it easy for you brain to keep as background noise. You stop losing focus on the music and you’re just letting it wash out portions of the brain, like white noise to keep part of you distract of which are hopefully the parts that keep you overthinking about all of the mechanics of the game.
The Learning Cycle
The game doesn’t really have a strict learning cycle because it doesn’t really enforce hard lessons. This is both its strength and its weakness because while you never feel punished for learning slowly, you don’t really have a means to get better other than understanding the mechanics of drifting. Those mechanics aren’t a few, either.
You’re managing the oversteer/understeer of your car so you don’t lose control while maintaining a speed conducive to the centrifugal force to keep the same arc all of which needs to be uniquely calculated before you enter the turn because each turn has requires different parameters from the last.
You come into a turn and try to figure out what all of these parameters are by feeling, since there is no UI to determine all any of these parameters, and its only after a couple of tries that you begin to understand what may work for each particular turn. Until you develop that understanding, you’ll be spinning out and starting over more than a few times.
The only resemblance of UI to use as a metric of how fast you should be going is only if you set the car to Manual mode, and even then you don’t have a speedometer only knowledge of what gear you’re currently in.
Most of this knowledge isn’t taught to you in the game, either. The only hints are that your goal is to slide the car while you turn, to use the handbrake to slow down, and to manage oversteer and understeer. While these are the fundamentals of drifting, there isn’t a means to manage them because what they all mean for you to manage Is the speed of your car during the turn of which there is no way to gauge.
This might only be because I came from an Initial D background but having the speedometer to know just how fast I’m going and how fast I need to be going to get the best line on a turn makes a world of difference and leaving that out, while giving a more minimalist design, gives less input towards developing a better drift understanding. Even in Initial D, you were able to downshift in Automatic transmissions to better regulate your speed on a turn, but maybe I shouldn’t be asking for a game to take mechanics from another.
The game does give you plenty of places to test and develop and retry with little tension or penalty which is very encouraging, but it’s very easy to feel frustrated from the lack of feedback in how to get better.
I did enjoy it, if that’s any consolation, but not overeager to going back to it anytime soon.
Blaugust Day 9