Racing has been around for years and fans flock to watch the high adrenaline action and to scream for their favourite driver. Rally racing, however, is a relatively new sport, compared to the others. Its supporters flock to the trackside to watch the competitors jump, speed through water traps, and slide around bends. The events are rarely trouble-free, and this is one of the main draws for the crowd. Art of Rally replicates the sport in an old-school fast-paced manner.
Developed and published by Funselektor Labs Inc, this tells a story of the sport’s heyday, while allowing you to compete across several classes of cars. With racing at the heart of everything it does, Art of Rally rarely changes pace and gamers will enjoy the high tempo action of every event they take part in.
Art of Rally demands precision and a connection to each race.
I’ve never excelled at the racing genre, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. I lack the finesse required to compete at the top level and I’ve come to terms with that. Fortunately, the developers understand its player base varies in ability and have allowed for a range of difficulty settings to compensate for those that are lacking. You can vary the damage to your vehicle and make your opponents as slow as a Sunday driver, so there was hope for me still.
With many modes to select from and a wide range of countries to visit, I felt spoilt immediately. Each country provides many tracks, and each one has a different surface that affects your driving style. I absolutely adored this attention to detail, and this ensured that the game was always challenging. You’ll race over tarmac, gravel, snow, dirt, and more as you aim to be crowned the champion of the world.
A brief history of the late rally scene.
The game opens with a surreal tutorial where a giant Buddha statue gives you a lecture about the history of the sport. I wasn’t too hopeful after this bizarre start, but I’m glad I kept an open mind as it quickly settled down to be a great driving experience.
You are flung straight into the Free Roam arena where you can do as you please. These large areas are surrounded by trees, rivers, and give you a taste of things to come. Here you are asked to collect five tapes, visit five beauty spots, and you must collect letters to make the word RALLY. Once you have found each letter, the next stage unlocks, and the fun starts over.
Other than the Free Roam section, the rest of the gameplay options are standard fare. Career, Time attack, Custom Rally, and Online Events are all available for selection.
Let’s talk game modes!
Career is where you’ll spend most of your time. Here you will race across different eras, unlocking a range of high performance and unique vehicles, while competing against computer opponents. Each level is generated randomly so you never know which country you’ll visit. The aim is simple; Get from A to B the quickest to be awarded the maximum points. You are given five restarts per race and if you finish first and have restarts left, you’ll unlock new vehicles and unseen liveries.
Time attack allows you to compete with online players to challenge for the number one gamer spot in the world. This will have the community champing at the bit and will be extremely competitive. Custom Rally contains no surprises, and you are free to set up the events of your dreams. Finally, Online Events allow for a daily and weekly competition on set tracks that are posted against other competing players.
It’s enjoyable, challenging, but something was missing.
Thrashing around each track while mastering the finer points of the surface was great fun. It’s truly rewarding once you get to grips with it and you hug the curves like a professional. Trying out the new cars was also a treat and increasing the speed never got boring. The impact of damage on your bodywork and the vehicle’s performance was interesting and was another layer to watch out for. As you increase the difficulty setting and up the damage percentage, the gameplay becomes challenging but fair. However, I couldn’t help but think that something was missing!
I’ve played my fair share of rally games across the years and am used to seeing live time splits for every competitor. Oddly, Art of Rally failed to provide this information. You are also driving every track blind as you are given no map or visibility of what to expect. This made for an exciting drive, but when you are pushing to go as fast as possible, a little heads up and knowledge would have gone a long way. I know it’s a small thing, but I expected to have these tools at my disposal and I believe this was an oversight from the developers.
Art of Rally is a simple game that makes the most of its assets.
So many racing games push the envelope to look fantastic and to be ultra-realistic. Therefore, it was refreshing that Art of Rally used its simplicity to make a fantastic looking and fun to play indie title. Shot from a bird’s-eye perspective, you have a great view of the surrounding world. The track is clearly set out before you, and the pixelated environment blurs as you speed on by. Crowds line the streets during each race and the insane competitors always get a little too close for comfort. The variety of landscapes and weather fronts helps to keep the gameplay interesting and I enjoyed experiencing each one.
The audio is dominated by the sound of the engines, even though there is a fast-paced soundtrack playing throughout. The overpowering sound effects were great, but I would have liked them scaled back a bit to create some balance. I enjoyed the squeals of the tyres and the thuds as you repeatedly crashed into the scenery, but I wasn’t surprised by anything on offer. I would have liked more crowd noises and some commentary to add excitement to each event. This doesn’t mean I was disappointed by the audio. I simply wanted a more rounded and fuller experience.
Pick your car and keep on racing.
The lack of complexity extends to the well-thought-out control setup. The opening tutorial with Buddha allows you the freedom to experiment before being chucked in the deep end. You’ll understand the fundamentals before you have to alter your style for each track, and this made it accessible. The difficulty scale also helped to balance out the field, and I was grateful for the user-friendly approach.
Thanks to the wide range of game modes and Online events, Art of Rally has plenty to keep you playing. You’ll also be sucked into its Free Roam section and the demand to find all the collectables. Lovers of the genre will become addicted to competing for the fastest times and completionists will need to invest lots of hours.
Art of Rally is straightforward racing at its best.
Racing games come thick and fast, so it was nice to play one that concentrated on the key elements. Yes, Art of Rally has its shortcomings, but its gameplay is fun and straightforward. Free to play on Gamepass and a play anywhere title, this is a game that is well worth your time. I enjoyed it and recommend you to buy it here! Do you have what it takes to win every rally? Jump into a car, select your event, and race your heart out.