Review | Inertial Drift: Twilight Rivals Edition

One of 2020’s most unique arcade racers has recently received a brand new version, with Series X|S graphics updates and a Eurobeat-filled driftastic DLC. We got our hands on Inertial Drift: Twilight Rivals Edition (not to be confused with Twitch Rivals), as we sped on narrow roads toward this review for you. For those who already know this game and those are just about to jump in – what’s in store?

Back to 2020

So where were we? We didn’t review Inertial Drift at its original release date, and indeed it’s something that’s been sitting in my Steam and Xbox wishlist for a while, waiting just for the right price and time to pull the trigger. I did manage to play the original version of the game eventually, and it was certainly a memorable one: with the game’s obvious inspiration in famous manga/anime Initial D, the title sees players use all kinds of sports and street cars race against the clock or other racers in tight tracks, with a highly arcade driving model using a unique double-stick driving method for easy drifting. Players can normally dose the gas and brakes via the triggers, plus turn the car normally using the left stick, but by applying pressure either left or right with the other stick, it’s also possible to make the rear of the car slide a lot more, putting the car in Outrun-esque angles to get through tight corners with minimal losses of speed.

It’s a simple formula, but with the tracks being rather narrow, the excitement is always high. Plus using the right stick for higher angles of drifting does concede some top speed, so players have to be smart in understanding which gentle corners can be cleared without drifting at a higher speed instead. The player usually races the clock in a variety of game modes, though sometimes a head-to-head battle happens as well, albeit with no collisions – it’s a race of ghosts as if it were TrackMania, essentially. Not only there’s free races and even an online portion, but there’s an Initial D anime-inspired campaign with animated intros and Japanese-style characters populating a world of racers. The production value on this portion isn’t outstanding, but with an energetic soundtrack and tons of visual callbacks to the source material, Inertial Drift’s story results are enjoyable enough for a playthrough for racer fans.

What’s new?

So what’s this Twilight Rivals Edition exactly? First of all, surprise surprise, it contains a DLC named Twilight Rivals. The recurrent number of this downloadable content seems to be 4: the player has to beat four rivals’ series of events, using a total of four new cars, over variations of four new tracks. A banging new soundtrack accompanies the new exotic locales by Turbo, and this one goes all the way in on the 90’s Eurobeat, to get even closer to the iconic audiovisual experience of the Initial D anime. With now two separate soundtracks in rotation, players can choose to either let the game decide which music plays based on whether it’s base game content or DLC or override the selection and just roll with one set of songs in particular.

Alongside the brand-new content in the DLC, this update brings various technical upgrades in the form of a Series X|S enhancement. A resolution-centric mode brings up the game to a lovely crisp 4K though with an uneven framerate, while the performance mode still looks crisp and smooth enough while going up to 120fps, assuming your display supports said feature. These updates definitely make the game feel newer and smoother, even though the game’s cel-shaded and simple graphics remain intentionally basic. Those who already own Inertial Drift’s original version, fret not: the Series X|S upgrade itself is free, and the Twilight Rivals DLC can be bought separately.

The way it’s meant to be played

Inertial Drift: Twilight Rivals Edition is a new version of this interesting drift-based arcade racer from 2020, adding brand new graphical enhancements on current-gen consoles to bring features such as 4K and 120fps and a fun DLC that adds new tracks, cars, and a fantastic set of Eurobeat tracks. It’s more of a quantitative update than a transformative one, and the extra cars and tracks don’t help solve the game’s relatively repetitive gameplay, yet this is undoubtedly a superior way to enjoy this quirky and adrenaline-filled arcade racer that I can certainly recommend to fans of the genre.

Reviewed on Xbox Series X
Available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date 30th September 2020 (base game), 15th November 2022 (Twilight Rivals)
Developer Level 91 Entertainment
Publisher PQube
Rated ESRB E for Everyone, PEGI 3

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