Absolute Drift: Zen Edition is an arcade drift driving game available for download from the PlayStation Store for PS4, alongside a Limited Run Games retail release limited to a pressing of 4,000 retail copies. Absolute Drift: Zen Edition is a collaboration between Flippfly Studios and Funselektor Labs as Flippfly Studios origins date back to March 7th 2013 when a successful Kickstarter campaign funded their debut game titled Race the Sun which released on PC in August 2013 before receiving a PlayStation port via triple cross-buy for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita in October 2014, while Absolute Drift is Funselektor Labs’ debut game that originally released on PC in July 2015 before the PS4 port arrived in August 2016 courtesy of Flippfly Studios. Can Absolute Drift: Zen Edition deliver the ultimate arcade drift racer?
Absolute Drift’s lead gameplay mechanic is clearly defined within its title as scoring as many points as possible from achieving the longest drift is the primary objective. Gameplay begins with the option of learning from three tutorials or immediately entering world 1. Every world contains multiple drift courses that each has their own unique objectives such as Kobe in world 1 requiring the player to score 100,000 points, reaching a 10x multiplier, drifting for 5 consecutive seconds, drifting 20 times and completing 10 clipping points. Meanwhile, missions situated throughout each world environment include jumping an object by accelerating up and over a ramp, drifting between two objects for an accumulated period of time, finding a certain quantity of a particular object and more besides.
Events mode essentially allows the player to choose from drifting, bonus blocks, clipping points, donuts and spin zones tutorials, alongside any unlocked drift tracks and driftkhana tracks in addition to the ability of viewing challenges for every event.
Car design has enough diversity as the player begins with a car named The Original before gradually unlocking more cars such as The Super for completing every mission within the world 1 environment, while there are a range of primary and secondary paint scheme colours that can be selected directly from the garage or alternatively by driving through a paint spray area.
Drift courses are variants of small straights in between corners to provide ample opportunity for drifting on every drift course, while locations alternate in their respective subject matter such as aeroplanes, helicopters, lighthouses, Japanese signage and more besides being situated trackside or on the drift course for the player to drift their car around.
It is disappointing to not see Absolute Drift: Zen Edition receive a Vita port, especially when considering the quality of the Vita version of Flippfly Studios’ Race the Sun; however at least remote play is a consolation. Absolute Drift: Zen Edition’s remote play performance is pretty good as it retains the quality of graphics, audio and general performance from the PS4 version. However, there are no remote play control optimisations as accelerating and braking is mapped by default to the top right and left of the rear touch pad, while none of the alternative control layouts have R and L for accelerating and braking, although the remote play experience is quite playable.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller, although you will more than likely have to adjust the transmission, steering assist and steering sensitivity before acclimatising to the handling and sweet spot of drifting. The default control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to brake or holding L2 to reverse; pressing square to manually shift gear upwards; pressing X to manually shift gear downwards; pressing O to perform a handbrake turn; pressing R1 to cycle through to the next song; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer the car; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. A further three alternative control schemes are mostly focused on re-mapping the manual gear shifting with controller layout 4 moving up shifting and down shifting to R1 and L1 respectively. Vibration occurs when drifting and colliding with an object or barrier, while there is no touch pad support which could have provided an alternative to manually shifting up and down gears by tapping the right and left of the touch pad respectively, alongside no light bar implementation which could have produced various shades of colours to highlight continuous drifts and a bright green colour for a few seconds upon successfully completing a drift course objective or a mission within a world.
Graphically, Absolute Drift has an abstract art style set upon some nice visual touches such as accurate lighting and shadows during night time events, drifting lines and tyre smoke from screeching tyres when drifting or braking; accompanied by a specific colour palette of light blue, red, white, black and grey with a few brighter and bolder colours such as yellow, a darker tone of blue and the paint scheme of your chosen car.
The presentation of the game is solid yet quite minimalist in its design with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, free-roam menus, events menus, garage menus, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on retaining a simplistic style, emphasising white, red, black and grey tones instead of a pattern, graphical assets or particle effects.
Sound effects include acceleration through the shifting of gears, applying the brakes, screeching tyres when drifting and crashing into obstacles or barriers. The soundtrack of choice is dance music yet it most probably would have been more fitting for the soundtrack to be rock oriented. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which could have produced any specific sound effect or all sound effects.
The trophy list includes 21 trophies with 7 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 8 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Jelly Donuts bronze trophy for completing 5 donuts in Driftkhana; the Drift Line Apprentice silver trophy for perfecting a drift line; and the Midnight Drifter gold trophy for unlocking a midnight event. Harder trophies include The Completionist gold trophy for completing all event challenges including tutorial events; the Insane Skills gold trophy for scoring over 2 million points in any event; and The Long Drift bronze trophy for performing a drift of 10 consecutive seconds. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including easy, medium and hard with the major differences being that your chosen car handles significantly differently as it is harder to prevent your car from spinning out, but the risk and reward factor provides a greater chance of drifting for longer durations.
There is no local or online multiplayer functionality which could have utilised a Trials Fusion approach by having each player assigned to an individual lane as they attempt to drift in order to gain the highest score in local and online competitive multiplayer gameplay for 2 to 4 players. However, online leaderboards allow players to compare their positioning with players globally, that occupy the top 8 positions, globally and to immediately find and display your position within any given leaderboard representing the highest scores for each event.
Absolute Drift: Zen Edition’s replayability stems from every drift course having 5 objectives and each world environment contains numerous missions, while cars are gradually unlocked in addition to customisable paint schemes for cars, alongside online leaderboards with personal record and world record ghost cars complimented by three difficulty levels and replays for the most recently completed event from the gameplay camera angle and a closer camera angle that will collectively have players returning for quite some time.
- Title: Absolute Drift: Zen Edition
- Developer: Flippfly Studios and Funselektor Labs
- Publisher: Flippfly Studios
- System: PS4
- Format: Limited Run Games Retail Release (Limited Pressing of 4,000 Copies)/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 619.8MB (Version 1.02)