Review – Absolute Drift: Zen Edition (Switch)

I’ve only found out about one-man developer Funselektor a few months ago after playing the absolutely phenomenal Art of Rally, a game that, somehow, managed to feel fresh and unique in a genre widely known for following standardized rules for the past twenty or so years. Later on, I was told that Art of Rally wasn’t Funselektor’s first game. That title goes to Absolute Drift, a game that just got ported for the Switch in its prettier, meatier, Zen Edition. How convenient!

All the excitement of mountain drifting without the risk of falling to your death.

Absolute Drift: Zen Edition might be based around cars and the beautiful art of disintegrating tires while drifitng, but this isn’t exactly a racing game per se. Your objective is to partake in various drifting-related events in either closed circuits or pseudo open worlds. The game wants you to perform tricks, combos, and complete challenges, not defeat other racers. This is more similar to a collectathon and an extreme sports game than an actual racing game, believe it or not.

There are basically two kinds of events you can partake on. The Free Roam mode is comprised of a big open world divided in small chunks. You can only visit a level after fully completing the objectives (but not the challenges) in its predecessor. Those range from performing a specific jump to drifting near or under a specific object. Each level also features a few macguffins you need to collect in order to progress to the next one. There is no time limit and no proper order to complete each task, so you can take your time trying to perfect each objective. The game is also very forgiving with the quality of your donuts and spins: you’ll never be stuck in an objective for long.

It’s like playing Tokyo Drift with your Micro Machines.

Drift tracks act less like a collectathon and more like, say, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. You don’t exactly have a time limit per se, but you only have a handful of laps available to complete all objectives. Those range from achieving a big score to achieving a big combo, and so on. It’s a lot more challenging than the open world objectives, but they feel way more rewarding when you finally manage to pull off a big fat combo without ever touching any nearby walls.

Drifting isn’t as easy as you would expect from a game centered around it. Cars are weighty, and the physics aren’t as loose as the game’s overall minimalistic and arcadey looks might suggest. You will need some time to figure out how drifting works, when to properly pull the analog stick to the opposite direction of your car’s drifting trajectory, and so on. The game features a lenghty tutorial, so I’d recommend spending some time perfecting your skills before tackling what Absolute Drift has to offer.

Just like Art of Rally, Absolute Drift: Zen Edition puts a big emphasis on its stylish presentation. It might not be as gorgeous as its younger brother, as cars look very small onscreen, but it’s still visually unique nonetheless. The best thing about the game, without a doubt, is its licensed soundtrack. Throughout your entire journey, you’ll be greeted to a ton of catchy drum n’ bass beats that fit perfectly with the game’s overall aesthetics.

You leave skid marks everywhere. Even in the air.

Absolute Drift: Zen Edition is not the most welcoming game at first, since its drifting mechanics require some practice, but once you get a hold of them, you’ll be greeted to a very unique mix between a car simulator, a collectathon, and an old-school extreme sports arcade title. It’s great as a pick up and play experience, and it looks great on the Switch’s portable screen. If you loved Art of Rally like I did, consider giving Absolute Drift: Zen Edition a try as well. At the very least, it will be an innovative experience.


Graphics: 7.5

It’s very stylish, but it’s even more minimalistic than the art style featured in Art of Rally. It gets tiresome after a while, as you’ll basically see three colors throughout the entire game: white, red, and very scarce amounts of blue.

Gameplay: 7.5

Even though this is a game all about Tokyo drifting your way to victory, performing such tricks is not as easy as you would imagine. You’ll need to practice a bit before getting a hold of the game’s physics, but once you do, it’ll become second nature.

Sound: 9.0

A collection of fast-paced and stupidly catchy drum n’ bass tunes that are a perfect fit for a game all about style.

Fun Factor: 8.0

It’s not exactly a very welcoming game, but once you learn how to properly perform drifts and tricks, you’ll be greeted to a unique mixture of a racing game, a collectathon, and an extreme sports simulator.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Absolute Drift: Zen Edition is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Absolute Drift: Zen Edition was provided by the publisher.