Art Of Rally Review
Motorsport games have always been a mix of power, precision, and noise. There have certainly been plenty of titles that have managed to combine these 3 qualities into intriguing packages, but none have managed to pull this off with such stylish bravado. Developer Funselektor has put together an incredibly minimalist, yet stylish, package that deserves the attention of any keen Motorsport enthusiast.
Dude, where’s my car?
From the very first time you take to the tarmac, the game’s strict adherence to minimalism is at the forefront of every decision. Not only are the graphics absolutely gorgeous, but this minimalist approach stretches to every nook and cranny of the game. The menus here are simple and clean, with little fuss or hassle. Real brands have been replaced by sleek and simple slogans. Combine this with the lo-fi soundtrack and you have the recipe for what is a very calming and zen-like experience. Driving takes precedence in this game, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look good doing it. Fans of Funselektor’s previous game, Absolute Drift, will certainly feel right at home immediately.
The game isn’t just pure eye candy either. Art of Rally contains a diverse roster of over 50 different cars. All your favorite vehicles from rally games old and new have made it, along with some fun vehicles I won’t spoil. None of the official likenesses have made it in the game, but this doesn’t really affect things in the long run as its very easy to spot your favorite rally car. I had particular fun sliding around corners in Funselektor’s version of the Ford Escort MK2. Whether you’re driving a 1960 classic or one of the modern competitors, each vehicle handles differently. Some of the antiques can be small and nimble, requiring good use of momentum to keep speed around corners. On the other hand, some of the more modern cars require more force as they surge to speeds that will leave you desperately fighting for control. I certainly didn’t expect this level of nuance in the gameplay. Don’t let the graphics fool you, the controls have more in common with a sim like Dirt Rally than Sega Rally.
Samir, you’re breaking the car!
Art of Rally also comes packed with a handful of different modes to keep you entertained. There’s a free roam mode that initially chucks you into the lush forests of Finland, where, after a brief introduction with the “God of Motorsport”, you’re left to explore on your own whim. This exploration also includes some collectibles that have you search for letters around the map like a Tony Hawk game. This was a fun way to get to grips with the controls of the game.
Once you’re feeling a bit more confident, you can tackle the more traditional career mode, which places you into the beautifully created stages around the world. This includes the gorgeous cherry-blossom trees of Japan or the sunny beaches of Sardinia. Every stage felt handcrafted with a beautiful backdrop that sometimes distracted me due to the sheer gorgeousness in the landscape. I now understand why the developers included a photo mode. It was hard not to stop and gawk at the visuals. Once you’re done being mesmerized by the visuals, you can get to the actual racing again. The career mode allows you to slowly unlock new vehicles and liveries depending on how well you do. This serves as a great place to try out all the different vehicle classes as you race through the decades, unlocking new vehicle groups.
Pedal to the metal
More traditional fans will no doubt spend most of their time in the time trial modes. The game features a robust set of challenges, from custom rallies to ever-rotating daily and weekly online time trials. I’ve already been addicted trying to set a high score in today’s daily time trial. None of these modes would matter if the driving wasn’t up to scratch. Thankfully, the robust handling and inertia meant every stage was a constant test of reflexes. The aforementioned car handling was smooth and there wasn’t a location or weather condition I did not enjoy driving in. One small mistake in a chicane or hairpin turn often spelled the end of a good run. This kept me on my toes for the entire run.
The only issue I did have with this game is that the camera often became my own worst enemy. The dolly-tracking style used was sometimes a little bit too slow for a corner, however, this issue was rare and did not detract from my overall experience with this game.
Overall, the minimalist approach has definitely paid off for Funselektor. What they’ve managed to pull off here is nothing short of marvelous. Motorsport enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy the smooth handling and abundance of modes to keep them occupied. From the soundtrack to the menu, every part of Art of Rally has been meticulously tailored to provide a zen-like experience that is unparalleled in top-down racers. Art of Rally is a stylized experience that is not to be missed.
Art of Rally is available on Steam.