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Driftwood – Review (Early Access)

Sloths get a raw end of the deal. They are lazy but as Driftwood shows, that lazy motion can be put to very good use. Driftwood is a lo-poly longboarding game. Think skateboarding but more curvy rather than pin point precise. It seems like the best on land extreme sport for a sloth to take part in and the best thing about it is just how good Driftwood feels to play.

Drifting around corners requires subtle analogue stick controls to not oversteer into a skid.

In its early access launch, the content is a little sparse but what is here is excellently put together. There are four tracks (plus a tutorial level) to longboard down and they take a couple of minutes to traverse at maximum speed or 3-4 minutes if you really take your time. Each road is full of alternative routes, be it through the forest, down a ditch or through a castle and so finding the route that you enjoy most is entirely up to you. Driftwood rewards exploration and mixing things up and so whilst 4 tracks sounds quite small, there are loads of options per track.

The route you take will be up to what you are trying to achieve and each level comes with some missions to unlock customisation for your sloth. Some are speed specific, asking you to bomb it down the track under a certain time. Most revolve around other missions like chaining a score, performing a large drift or boarding close to traffic to make them honk their horn. All these different skills build up points and keep the score meter flowing and to chain things up there are leaves in the road for you to aim for between corners or jumps. There are a few tricks you can do in Driftwood but that’s really the focus here, its all about the feel. Thankfully, the handling is perfectly lazy in that you can drift with ease gently around corners if you wish but being hard on the steering will scrub your speed off to a halt as you oversteer. Of course, you can also fly off your board if you hit anything and the ragdoll physics are strong in this game. Just watch my gameplay in the review video if you want a slothy Gang Beasts.

Minimalist hubs, graphics and tricks makes Driftwood focus on speed and flow and the handling immerses the player in that flow state well.

Whilst the handling takes a good 15 minutes to nail down, the game sets a very low bar for opening up the next track and for respawning mid run. Driftwood is all about a relaxed vibe and that carries through the handling, graphics and the excellent soundtrack. It’s a mixture of lo-fi beats to chill to and relaxed RnB sounds. As it sounds like its playing through a car radio at times, it just suit the mood of the game perfectly and driving around on the overworld map like Overcooked is also a lovely addition. Every track has a speed based online leaderboard which is great, although the fact you can have different boards and wheels with different grip levels does muddy the water on them a little.

I had a blast playing Driftwood. More tracks and new challenge levels are coming, the developer has made their roadmap quite clear on that. To be honest, that’s all the game really needs. Everything is here and works fantastically well – especially given its a £9.99 game. Don’t let Driftwood drift passed you, this is a lovely gem to play that understands how to get in a flow state. I’d probably say fans of games like SSX may prefer it compared to fans of Skate, because of its downhill drifting nature, but honestly, its a worthy addition to all x-games sport lovers. What a great product from a two-person team.

Review copy provided by developer. Out now on Steam.

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