Art of Rally is an arty look back at the golden age of rally driving. Casting you back in time to the late 60s, and driving era-appropriate cars, you’re taken through randomly generated courses across a multitude of countries. I’ve never really been great at racing games, but I do enjoy them to some degree, as long as they aren’t incredibly punishing.
Fortunately for me, Art of Rally gives you great control over the way your cars handle and how much auto-assist you want on there when you are driving around. This made it much more accessible for me when I was just starting out, because rather than just gliding off the slides of the road at every corner, I was able to just about work out how much to break, what angles I needed to take and make an appropriate adjustment to ensure I was able to continue. Falling off the side of the track isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world – if you stray too far though, you will get warped back to the road at a time penalty of five seconds, plus the extra three or four seconds it takes to fade out and back in. It is a nice feeling when you can make it through a long, five minute race without needing to be plopped back though.
I feel I’ve said this about a lot of games lately, and perhaps it’s just the games I’ve been playing and reviewing are top tier, or maybe that devs have discovered that players will be more forgiving of a beautiful game, but Art of Rally is phenomenal in every area of its presentation. The art style feels very retro that looks wonderful from a distance – not too great up close, but not awful either. Driving around in free roam, or in a race, is a lovely experience. You’ll see so much that the game has to offer, and in free roam there are things to collect while you explore which always adds a bit of fun to it. It’s a perfect time to sit, drive around and chill, especially because you’ll be able to enjoy a wonderful soundtrack that will put anyone at ease and really make you want to drive along.
Playing the story mode is where I spent most of my time though, even though free roam was pretty fun. It’s always different and challenging, and because you compete against other players – only their times, not them actually – it’s a thrill when you can overtake their time and dominate the leaderboards. There are a few different difficulty settings, so depending on which mode you play on will dictate how easy it is to reach the top spot – I gave it a try in every mode and I saw times ranging from ones very close to mine, to some being ten minutes or more out, so there is a wide variety in player skill levels for you to compete with as well which gives a nice competitive edge without the pressure of having to try to match pace or avoid other players on the road. For some that would probably be a turn off, but it’s definitely not for me. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to set what I thought was a good time and then be told I’m absolutely pants.
Truly, there aren’t many things that I can say negatively about Art of Rally. The driving is pretty solid and adjustable if you need a bit more of a hand with it, the story mode is well researched and enjoyable, and the sound design and graphics are absolutely top notch. The only minor things were that occasionally I found some races could drag on a bit too long, especially when you stray slightly offroad and then the overzealous AI will plop you back onto the road which was a minor irritation, especially when I wasn’t necessarily in complete control at the time. Other than that, maybe the free roam could do with a mini map, but these are more suggestions for the dev to add a bit of polish rather than any real bug reports or anything.
Art of Rally is a game any racing enthusiast will enjoy, it offers everything you’d want in a racing game, with some nice relaxing gameplay mixed in with a bit with a competitive edge. It’s gorgeous and has an amazing soundtrack too so I can’t imagine a finer racing game coming out this year.