Preview: Drift 21 Is Part Racing Game, Part Garage Sim

Screenshot: Drift 21

If you’re playing a modern racing game, you should expect some sort of drift mechanic to come into play. In a more serious racing sim, then it might be possible for a skilled racer to pull it off—but arcade-style racers use drifting as part of the game’s mechanics, often imparting a speed boost when done successfully. It’s refreshing to see a more sim approach to drifting—which Drift 21 is all about.

Drift 21 is part racing game, part car garage simulator. A large chunk of Drift 21 is about fine tuning your car to perfection. Swap out parts and adjust them for maximum performance. Of course, you can change your car’s paint job, but you can customize so much more in Drift 21. Add a custom gear shift, hand brake—change out your seat, steering wheel, you name it.

Screenshot: Drift 21

The amount you can tinker with your car is outside of the norm for a racing game. Drift 21’s garage feels a bit like Car Mechanic Simulator or its ilk. You are required to get under the hood and swap out parts. If you throw in an engine, you also have to make sure it’s hooked up to all of the correct corresponding parts. The parts and cars are all rendered with a good amount of detail and it’s fun looking at the different parts. Each car has the interior fully rendered. It’s surprisingly fun to tinker with the car and its performance. After everything is put together, take your car out on the track to test those drift skills.

Since Drift 21 is about drifting, you can expect the events and tracks to be catered towards that activity. That’s the case for Drift 21, but only sort of. You can free ride with no set conditions, do a solo run where you try to earn as many points as possible, or do a time attack and try to beat your best times. Fortunately, the tracks are great for drifting, with plenty of appropriately sharp turns. Sadly, the driving physics are a little off.

Screenshot: Drift 21

Driving in Drift 21 is a little disappointing so far. The physics are best described as squishy. The developers are definitely trying for a more “sim” feel, but it’s not quite there yet, despite their recent driving model update. Of course, Drift 21 is still in Early Access, so it has time to improve.

As an Early Access game, Drift 21 is still in development. More tracks are being added, as well as more cars to fill up the roster—as there’s only a half dozen cars to choose from, and about as many tracks. According to the information on the Steam store page for Drift 21 Early Access is planned to last several months, and will add more cars, tracks and game modes like multiplayer—which is sorely lacking currently.

Screenshot: Drift 21

Drift 21 has potential. It has a fun garage section, and I ended up enjoying tinkering with my cars more than driving them. With more refinements and additions—such as more cars, tracks, and multiplayer—Drift 21 has the potential to be a great drifting sim.


If you want to play Drift 21 while it’s still in development, it’s available on Steam Early Access



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Antal Bokor
Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.

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