Drive Rally is an indie arcade-style racer with a slick art style

A more serious sequel to the endless runner Drive, this rally racer by developer Pixel Perfect Dude calls for precise drifting.

Pixel Perfect Dude

Rally racing is a niche game genre that has typically been dominated by the DiRT Rally and World Racing Championship series, but Drive Rally hopes to slip into the pack as a spiffy arcade-style offroader. Otherwise known as #Drive Rally, this single-player game by Pixel Perfect Dude drifts away from the technical simulation-based side of rally racing and leans into the more casual lane in a way that harkens back to the classic Sega Rally Championship. This racer is an ambitious sequel to Drive (similarly known as #Drive), an endless runner for mobile devices and the Nintendo eShop that plays like a 3D version of Konami’s Road Fighter. I had the chance to try a demo of Drive Rally at the Day of the Devs showcase during GDC 2024, and while it still needs some fine tuning, it’s off to a solid start. 

Catching a new drift

Drift Rally Preview Roster Cars Vehicles #Drift
The roster of cars features recreations of many classic cars.

SOURCE: Pixel Perfect Dude

The demo at the event, which is different from the demo that’s available on Steam Early Access (at the time of writing), focused on the Quick Race mode. The developer on site said that the team is working on a Career mode too, though much of the game is still centered around time trials with optional competition against rival ghosts. The demo had two options for maps: Dry Crumbs, inspired by the US deserts (it’s also a callback to Dry Crumbs in Drive); and Holzberg, based on the dense, coniferous forests of Germany. A third map in Finland as well as an unnamed “tropical” map are in the works too. In total, the developer is shooting for about 24 tracks, a number that can be doubled if mirrored tracks are included.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Drive Rally is its painterly art style. It’s unfussy and almost cel-shaded, similar to the graphics of Art of Rally. This intentionally loose aesthetic makes sense given that it’s expensive to secure licenses for official cars and tracks, and to create vehicles with ultra-realistic physics, lighting, and handling. Instead, the roster is composed of fictional reproductions of classic rally cars from the ‘80s and ‘90s, keeping in spirit with the game’s old-school vibes, like the 1984 Das Sandsturm, Alfabetta 86, The Sideways 84, and Clouder 95. Rally racing veterans will be able to figure out what these vehicles are referencing in real life. Suffice it to say, the roster is a love letter to a beloved time period for the sport.

Get on the right track

Drift Rally Preview Germany Track Drifting #Drift
The Germany map has fairly narrow tracks that will require accurate turns.

SOURCE: Pixel Perfect Dude

While Drive Rally doesn’t aim for realism, getting through a track without making a mistake still takes a lot of precision. The open desert tracks in the Dry Crumbs are forgiving since there are many opportunities to cut corners and misjudging a turn typically results in only a few extra seconds on the clock. But the thin roads of the Holzberg tracks are much less lenient with many tricky hairpin turns and tall trees blocking the view. Most cars of the same class have similar handling, though the developer is still making adjustments to braking, suspension, tire grip, and more. I played the demo using a controller, which worked fine enough, but the game is also compatible with various racing wheels.

To help guide you through each track unscathed, you need to pay close attention to the pace notes given by the co-driver. While there are several options for your rally navigator, a popular choice will most likely be one that sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition to calling out specific instructions on turns and straightaways, the co-driver comments on how well you perform a turn and provide some humor every now and then. It’s a good way to inject some personality, though the developer should consider the option of turning the jokes off for more serious runs.

A demo for Drive Rally is available on PC via Steam Early Access. The full release is slated to arrive in 2024 for PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5, and Nintendo Switch. Ports for iOS and Android are a possibility in the future.

This preview is based on a PC demo at the Day of the Devs: San Francisco Edition during GDC 2024.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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