At a time when racing games are getting closer and closer to photoreal, it is getting harder and harder to tell them apart. Art of Rally bucks this trend with glorious stylised graphics and some great rally driving.
At first glance, Art of Rally very much reminds me of early 90s arcade racers, as pixels started to give way to real 3D graphics. But instead of being a technical limitation, the simplistic visuals of Art of Rally are a design choice and one that really makes the game special.
The game is played from a third-person view. Whilst you can change the camera angles, the view is more from an angle above than the usual chase view. There’s no cockpit view, which is in keeping with the arcade stylings.
The career mode takes players on journey not only around the world but through the history of rally driving from the 1960s to the present day. You get to drive thinly-veiled iconic rally cars such as the Esky V1 (Ford Escort Mk.1), Meanie (Mini) and Le Cinq (Renault 5). Other vehicles such as vans, trucks and tuk-tuks can also be unlocked.
The cars handle just as you’d expect in a modern game. They are responsive and behave realistically. If you give them some brake on the approach to a bend you can sail around them nicely, just as you would in Dirt Rally 2.0.
The clean visuals look amazing. The game isn’t trying to look realistic, and the result is refreshingly different. It’s is only the design that is minimalistic, the lighting and models are all very well defined.
The rally stages are set across fictional representations of Finland, Sardinia, Japan, Norway and Germany. Each location is quite large, offering a lot of variety across the stages.
The different stages are packed with details with bridges, water features, towns and villages. The distance blur gives the game a Lilliput-like tiny model look.
There are some lovely little features like the crowds of pin people that scurry out of the way as you approach, some more successfully than others. Don’t let the simplistic visuals fool you, the cars kick up dust on gravel just as you’d expect.
As well as the career mode, there’s also the opportunity to take a spin along a stage in time attack. Custom rallies can also be created with up to 10 stages. Player can also enter online events joining leader boards with players across the world. With many of the locations being a complete road networks, Free Roam lets players drive around in the vehicle of their choice to find secrets to unlock more free roam locations.
The game is, unfortunately, PC only. It’s absolutely criminal that this game is not available on the Nintendo Switch as it is just so suited to portable gaming. The game’s pick-up-and-play mechanics also make it perfect for a quick go.
Art of Rally is a rally game with a difference. The minimalistic style looks fantastic, but coupled with very realistic physics and rally gameplay. An incredibly charming entry into the racing genre.