Inertial Drift, Image Level One Entertainment

‘Inertial Drift’: A Retro Racer That Keeps Things Simple Yet Satisfying

Entertainment Video Games

What is Inertial Drift?

Inertial Drift is a racing game set in a retro style ’90s future that uses unique Twin Stick Controls to allow racers to drift precisely in a whole new way.

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Age Rating

Inertial Drift is rated ESRB E and PEGI 3, making it suitable for all the family.

Meeting the Characters in Inertial Drift, Image Sophie Brown
Meeting the Characters in Inertial Drift, Image Sophie Brown

Available Formats

Inertial Drift is available on:

Remember that you can buy digitally on your console’s store if you need the game before Christmas.

Minimum System Specifications

  • OS: 64 bit Windows 10 / 8 / 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz / AMD FX-8150 3.6GHz or equivalent
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 550 Ti / Radeon HD 6790 2GB VRAM*
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible soundcard

Inertial Drift Trailer

Inertial Drift Gameplay

Inertial Drift is a racing game and has all the usual game modes you would expect, plus a few extras, so let’s go through them.

When you first turn on the game, you’ll be taken through a fast and furious tutorial. I say “tutorial,” but this is more like getting thrown into a car and having instructions pop up on screen while you simultaneously try to get the hang of things, look where you’re going, and read the speech pop-ups. Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end! However, for all the game’s marketing hype about the “unique twin stick drifting,” if you’ve played any kind of racing game in the last twenty years or so, you’ll pick this one up in no time at all.

Game Modes

The main menu lets you hope straight into any game mode you want, so all options are available immediately—no unlocking required. Top of the list is Story Mode. Here you can play as one of four characters preparing for the Summer Grand Prix, working your way through the game’s numerous racetracks in a variety of race styles, including racing against ghost cars, dueling, and traditional racing. The characters you select at the start of your story is the one you’ll have to stick with throughout, and you’ll be driving their car throughout too. You can, however, repeat Story Mode with all the different characters/cars if you wish, and I would recommend doing so before competing in the relevant Grand Prix for that car.

Challenge Mode, Image Sophie Brown
Challenge Mode, Image Sophie Brown

Completing the various tasks in Story Mode unlocks new ones in Challenge Mode. Here, you can unlock more cars and characters by completing challenges such as scoring over an amount of style points in a race (think showing off a la Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater but with cars), beating an opponent’s ghost time, and racing as far as you can before a timer runs out. There are 12 characters and cars to unlock this way in addition to the ones you start the game with.

Arcade is the most flexible option in Inertial Drift and perfect if you’re just looking for a casual race against the computer. Here, you can choose to race on any of the 20 tracks (there are technically only 10 different tracks, but each one can also be raced in reverse) in any of seven race modes (five on Point-to-Point tracks), using any unlocked car/character—you can even customize your car color. This is the option I have spent by far the most time using when playing Inertial Drift and is almost a full game in and of itself.

The Grand Prix mode is what the characters in Story Mode are preparing for. This multi-stage competition pits you against five different tracks, in five different race modes, in the car of your choice. But beware! For each car, you’ll only get three retries to complete your Grand Prix, run out of them and it’s game over. For the beginner car—the Terra Dart—you’ll have to complete the following to win the Grand Prix:

  • Time Attack at Sunset Sea Circuit
  • Duel at Kirino Forest
  • Race at City Skylink
  • Time Attack at Lakeside Loop (Reversed)
  • Race at Snow Mountain Sprint (Reversed)

With limited laps, no restarts, and only a few retries, you’ll want to have practiced plenty in the other game modes before taking on a Grand Prix.

Preparing for a Grand Prix, Image Sophie Brown
Preparing for a Grand Prix, Image Sophie Brown

Split Screen is fairly self-explanatory. It accommodates a maximum of two players, can be played on any of the circuits or tracks, and in any of the five game modes for point-to-point tracks or six for circuits (Endurance is not available for Split Screen.) Players can each select and customize the color of their cars before racing. All races are individual, however, with no option for a local multi-race Grand Prix.

Online racing isn’t quite as straightforward as it might be. You’ll first need to select your class; Class C – Sport (easy), Class B – Performance (medium), or Class A – race (hard). You can also choose which region to race in should you wish, or let the game select on auto mode. Once you’ve chosen your mode, the game will search for other online players. This part was frustrating. With Inertial Drift not a hugely popular game, I often found myself waiting a long time for other players—if the game could even locate any. Most of the time, I gave up after several minutes and went back to racing against the AI.

Race Modes

There are seven different race models in Inertial Drift:

Practice: As it sounds, race around the track with no opponents to learn the course. This is as simple as racing games come.

Ghost Battle: Choose an opponent and race their ghost car around the circuit for one lap to try and beat their top time.

Time Attack on Inertial Drift, Image Sophie Brown
Time Attack on Inertial Drift, Image Sophie Brown

Time Attack: Race over three laps (for circuits) or one track length and attempt to beat set times to earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal and the possibility of a place on the global leader board.

Race: A traditional three-lap/one track length race against your choice of unlocked opponent.

Duel: Possibly the most unique option. Here, you race against an opponent to be the first to score 1000 points. Whoever is in the lead gains points, and the longer you stay in front and the further ahead you get, the faster your points will increase. Should your opponent overtake you, your own points counter will freeze and theirs will start ticking upwards toward that 1000 point goal, so don’t let them stay ahead too long.

Racing a Duel, Image Sophie Brown
Racing a Duel, Image Sophie Brown

Style (Circuit Tracks Only): Compete for a gold, silver, or bronze medal by drifting, grinding, and performing other tricks over a single lap of the circuit.

Endurance (Circuit Tracks Only): Drive as far as you can as the timer counts down, hitting checkpoints to extend your remaining time and earning gold, silver, or bronze medals for completing certain distances.

Expansions and In-Game Purchases

There are no expansions or in-app purchases for Inertial Drift, however, a free-to-play prologue is available for PC gamers via Steam by the name Inertial Drift: Sunset Prologue.


Inertial Drift isn’t quite the game-changing, tear-up-the-rulebook racing game it tries to sell itself as, but that doesn’t stop it from being a solidly good race game. It avoids many of the pitfalls of modern racing games such as online gameplay requirements, in-app purchases, and the removal of split-screen racing that families want. Instead, what we have here is a game that allows you to take your racing as seriously or as casually as you want. Have a few minutes spare and want to have a quick zip around a circuit with no strings attached? You can do that. Want to fill an evening with a story interspersed with plenty of races across a variety of tracks and styles? You can do that too. This is a more “serious” race game than more cartoonish options like Mario Kart or the Nickelodeon Kart Racers game I reviewed recently—don’t expect to be dropping banana skins or releasing smoke bombs to foil your opponents here—but you also won’t need to feel like you need a degree in race mechanics in order to do well, unlike several other adult-targeted race games I’ve played recently.

One thing that is obviously lacking from Inertial Drift is detailed car customization. Other than choosing a color scheme at the beginning of your race, the cars here are fixed. You can’t swap out tires or brakes or anything else. Want a car with better acceleration or more precise handling? You’re going to need to simply swap to a different model. For many gamers, this is likely to be a big negative mark for the game, but for me, I couldn’t be happier. I have virtually no interest in tweaking my cars in race games and would rather the focus be placed on giving me different game and race modes to explore, which is exactly what we have here.

The game itself looks great as a whole with clear, well-designed menus and fantastic track map graphics. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the animation/art style for the (refreshingly diverse) human characters, but that’s only relevant for a few seconds as you choose your options, and the graphics in the races themselves are stunning. Everything about Inertial Drift ties it to the retro ’90s futurism look the designers were going for and visually, it all looks like synthwave music’s video game sibling. To that end, I wish the music was a bit more interesting. I’d love to be able to load my own music into this (imagine flying down these neon-drenched street circuits with The Midnight blasting from your speakers) but instead, the music varied between electro-jazz and something that reminded me of the queue line for Air at Alton Towers.

Track Selection in Inertial Drift, Image Sophie Brown
Track Selection in Inertial Drift, Image Sophie Brown

Inertial Drift is an ideal racing game for those looking for something a bit more traditional in a car racing game with less focus on online gameplay and more on simple human vs AI racing. There’s a lot to do here so you won’t get bored quickly through repetition, and the split-screen option is great for parents and kids, although it would have been better to see that expanded up to four-player like some other split-screen racers. This has quickly become my go-to racing game, and I’m sure it will remain so for a long time to come.

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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