Screaming sideways in the long, arching turns of Snow Mountain Sprint, my front tires endlessly flirted with the dense snow on the side of the road, but the control precision was such that they never kissed. My first Inertial Drift arcade racing events went effortlessly as I threw my car sideways turn after turn. It makes a great first impression, but beyond the initial rush of high-speed thrills, it soon turns out to have enough depth to go the distance as well. My first races, you see, were in Edward’s Terra Dart, an easy-to-handle sporty number with all the depth of a paper bag but, most importantly, the perfect vehicle to introduce Inertial Drift’s double-stick controls. . Yes, in this racing car, you steer with the left joystick, but control the drift of your car with the right. This allows you to make separate on-the-fly adjustments to manipulate the angle of your car as you drift while moving it left or right on the track, allowing you to maintain the perfect line on virtually any curve or to slide neatly into any corner. It changes the game. Dart is the purest and simplest expression. You can simply lock the throttle and attack each turn with a two-stick dropout. What if you need to hit a really aggressive angle? A tap on the brake will rotate the rear further. Edward’s Dart, however, is just the start. Each vehicle on Inertial Drift’s list feels distinct and requires a specific approach to master. Ibba’s HPE Dragon, for example, requires you to brake before sharp turns before starting to drift in order to hit the right line and maintain momentum. You can then take advantage of its strong acceleration to get out of the turn. Riku’s Venom Industries Ventus will only go into a slightly inclined lazy slide with the drift stick engaged; rather, it is the brake that is the main way to get sharper angles in the corners. Corey’s HPE Katana, on the other hand, involves feathering the throttle as you glide, fine-tuning the drift stick to find the right angle. Pause during a slide with this car and it picks up. There are so many extremes to enjoy in the 16 car lineup. Seth’s Coda Supreno has an extremely slow build speed, which means every mistake is costly, but it’s the fastest car in the game when it starts. It’s exciting to learn how to release the accelerator and find precisely the right drift line to maintain momentum in the turns. Gunner’s Roton 7D, meanwhile, has a raw power stack and drift on the brake, so it feels very nervous, swaying widely on the lightest touch. It’s hard to get a feel for it, especially in the sharp corners which can let you turn completely if you aren’t skillfully handled. And then there’s Samira’s HPE Jester, who never wants to take over again. Everything is adrift, all the time. Inertial Drift – Story Mode Characters As you’ve probably noticed, each car is tied to a specific character, and you’ll get to know that cast as you progress through story mode. Playing through the story of Inertial Drift four times – once for each of the selectable characters – gave me a really good taste of what its racing mechanics have to offer, and makes smart use of its dialogue and challenges. to teach lessons on how each car behaves. Ibba, for example, won’t be able to post a good enough lap time on City Skylink unless he – and by extension, you – takes Viv’s advice to heart on why you sometimes need to brake. to go faster. The challenges here are all about making you a better driver, and as I walked through the events of each destination, I have certainly become that. While the story itself has no real consequences, its execution is refreshing. There’s no testosterone here – no high-stakes bickering between hotshot pilots with insanely big egos. Instead, we have a large cast of racing enthusiasts – people from all walks of life who want to share their love of racing, help each other and improve themselves. It’s endearing, really, that you play as Edward, who just wants to have fun but finds out that with practice he has the chops to be competitive, or Viv, who’s the runner to beat, but also humble enough to know she has more to learn. It provides a backdrop to some absolutely captivating races – all, in essence, against the clock, because even when you’re running straight with another character, your car safely passes through theirs instead of bumping into each other. And everything, I should also add, from a chase camera view – something I usually never use in arcade racers, much preferring to be low to the ground and in first person. Luckily the cars look great on the inertial drift track and the sense of speed is still very real even from that point of view.My favorite course is Mount Kirino, a point to point race of about five minutes with a mountain winding. roads, wide back turns, fast S-turns and so much speed. “Story Mode only has five destinations, but each is very distinct. City Skylink, for example, feels completely different from the Sunset Sea Circuit. The former is an urban route with wide freeways, long curving tunnels, and technical street sections, while the latter takes you from the beach into the mountains as you soar along narrow and swift roads, zigzagging in a slalom downhill and howl around a series of switchbacks. My favorite course, however, is Mount Kirino, a roughly five-minute point-to-point race with twisty mountain roads, an epic corkscrew that lets you hold a seemingly forever drift, big backward turns, fast S-turns and oh so a lot of speed. And along the way, you’ll set off from ski areas, where chairlifts silhouetted against the night sky, through an ancient forest lit by lanterns and dotted with impossibly tall trees, over mountain slopes with purple-hued stars. and a sliver of moon towering over the screen, then finally a cityscape appears mirage in the distance as you stroll along a series of ridges. I’m not in love with the cel-shaded, vaporwave aesthetic of Inertial Drift in general, but it certainly has its moments. The story mode lessons are just a part of what’s available elsewhere. There are 20 course layouts in all, covering point-to-point races and circuits, and including front and rear options. If you want to practice these other options, you’ll need to switch to Arcade Mode, where you can also test your mettle against the fastest times posted by players around the world. That’s good, but I really enjoyed the context and challenges provided by Story Mode, so it’s a shame that ending a character’s story doesn’t open up a Story Mode + that allows you to do all of the courses backwards, or perhaps offer a different selection entirely. (There is, however, an option to choose “Xtra Crispy” when starting a new story save, which offers tougher targets and faster opponents, but the same courses.) That said, Arcade mode is definitely useful to familiarize yourself with specific courses before switching to Grand Prix mode. Each car / racer has a custom grand prize to complete, and it helps to familiarize yourself with each event as you only have three second chances to complete the full set. The challenges are also pretty cool – there’s one for any extra cars that can be unlocked, which then lets you take them into other modes. And for fans of the same action screen, in addition to online multiplayer, Inertial Drift also offers a two-player split screen.