This week, the demo of a new racing title, Japanese Drift Master launched on Steam. Being a racing fan, I immediately downloaded the game to try it out.
While other racing games focus on racing street circuits and others focus on off-road adventures, this has a very different purpose.. to slide sideways.
The game currently doesn’t have an official release date, but after getting hands-on with the demo, I really hope it’s not too far away.
This preview gives us a great taste of things to come, taking us inside Japan’s drifting culture and the combination of Japanese vehicles and environments immerses you in the world.
When it comes to gameplay, you start by driving out of your garage and exploring the streets, filled with corners you can use to build your drifting skills.
While it’s really fun to explore, there are a number of challenges you’ll find along the way. These include a training ground that lets you slide around a track, or move through a set of challenges. There are also grip challenges that focus on getting from point A to point B within a set time. With many tight turns, there’s plenty of scope to drift through corners to get the gold. There are also drift challenges that require you to earn a set number of drift points to get a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal.
These medals translate to currency in the game which can be spent on new vehicles or customizations and visual and performance upgrades.
I am really impressed with the graphics in this game, there’s a great level of detail in the environment with lots of buildings, other vehicles and even trees, and signs to make you really feel like you’re driving through a real environment.
The lighting is really well done, often changing as the light shines through the trees, followed by shadows bathing the road ahead. When you venture into direct sunlight, you’ll see lots of pretty reflections and sun flares, all adding to the feeling of realism.
Powered by my RTX 3080, the game ran very smoothly, even pushing 5120×1440 pixels to my 49″ Ultrawide. My setup also consists of a Logitech G PRO wheel and pedals and at first, it wasn’t recognised (device support will improve for the final game).
Having changed the PRO into compatibility mode (G923), the game recognised the wheels and pedals. There’s force feedback through the wheel, but no vibration when the road surface changes which hopefully arrives in future updates.
Overall the physics and drift mechanics in the game are great and most importantly fun. For those looking to tweak setups, you can find a garage and adjust a crazy number of parameters about the car configuration. Playing with these settings had a good correlation to the way you feel the car move beneath you, particularly when pushing to the edge of performance.
Success at drifting really starts by initiating the drift, which can be done with a clutch kick, but more commonly is done using a grab (tap) of the handbrake. With the car sideways, you will need to catch the wheel as it enters opposite lock and then adjust the angle of the car through a combination of steering and throttle adjustments. When you nail this, it’s a great feeling and when you link drifts together you are rewarded with score multipliers.
Another great aspect of this game is the sound. Part of the goal of a driving game is to trick your brain into thinking you’re actually driving the car in that world. The sound is a big part of that and the 2 vehicles I’ve raced so far sound very realistic. Exhaust mods change the sound, as does upgrading things like intakes and turbos.
Below is a video of my first few minutes of racing, since then I’ve learned through spending time in the seat and it’s safe to say I’m completely hooked on this game. If feels different than your typical racing titles like iRacing, Forza, and Assetto Corsa and carves out a great niche in a very competitive landscape.
Whenever Japanese Drift Master is released, it’s a must-have for me.