I’ve been wondering how best to sum up Drive! Drive! Drive! in as few words as possible, but the mechanics of the game make that incredibly difficult.
Imagine you’re driving a car in a race, but while you race you can also control the same car, on the same track, but in different dimensions. That is the basic premise of Drive! which sounds confusing, but works with wonderful precision. All it takes is a tap of a button – either up or down on the D-Pad or the X button – to switch between dimensions and you’re instantly switched into the car while the AI takes over the car you just left behind.
Where most driving games require 100% focus for the entirety of a track, you can’t do that here because you won’t have control of everything at all times. The result of the race is determined by points given over each dimension; so if you stick with one race and neglect the others you may win one and lose two or three other racing instances. This would result in failing the course. So, the idea is that you take control at key moments and utilise the boost function of the vehicle.
For example, you can boost off of the line to get ahead of your opponents and catch a glimpse of the first corner. This allows switching to the other dimensions where your car won’t be as far down the road, but you’ll already have knowledge of the first corner. Of course, if you didn’t set up that corner very well for the AI on the first track, then you’ve already made an error. And it’s worth hitting the quick restart. There’s no point in handing over the controls if the car is aimed at a wall or won’t hit the apex correctly.
Throughout each course there are the usual racing tropes; boosting, tight corners, bumpy tracks and jumps. The latter brings in some interesting features as the cars from each dimension can crash into one another in the air, which causes chaos across all of the races and requires fast thinking to wrestle back control. The ability to choose from a number of vehicles which unlock as you play also increases the depth of the game. Small aerodynamic cars will pick up speed but will lose handling when bumped by other drivers, whereas large SUVs can take a bashing but will flounder at speed and underperform on jumps.
The choice of car is key when taking on the tracks, as each track asks something different of you. Some require a race win. Others set a time trial or ask you to collect glowing orbs scattered around the track. These orbs are spaced evenly throughout dimensions, meaning that the first track sees the first round of orbs and as they end, the second track spawns theirs. The car who collects the most orbs, wins. It’s all very simple, but devilishly so. The simplicity allows for the addiction to kick in and this urges that instinct that begs one more race – knowing that you can always do that bit better if only you lined up that corner better for the AI or took a jump at less or more speed.
It’s not just single player on the table. You can race against others online or even create your own tracks for others to download. As of writing there are plenty of people creating weird and wonderful tracks full of loops and twists and jumps that will challenge the best racers. I’ve been playing for many hours and have barely scratched the surface in terms of content and creative potential.
What helps Drive! succeed is the distinctive art style. Every handful of tracks is nested in its own little world which radically changes the art direction leading to some impressive visual vistas of neon colours and geometric lines intersecting each other. As the cars cross the finish line the tracks disintegrate and the vehicles fall through the remaining dimensions, allowing for some beautiful but hectic moments. And, there’s a thumping soundtrack to accompany the visual style which urges you to keep the accelerator held down and drift around the corners with style.
Thankfully Drive! Drive! Drive! isn’t a case of style over substance. Both visuals and mechanics go hand in hand in creating a bonkers futuristic racing game that can compete against many other out there. As long as the community continues to embrace the creative modes and as long as the itch of “one more race” stays, this unique racer certainly has legs.
+ Distinct art style
+ So many content options and creative potential
+ Fluid mechanics
– Needs an active community to maintain quality
Drive! Drive! Drive
8.5 out of 10
Platform review on: – PC