Skydrift is breathtaking in every sense.

By Daavpuke, Posted 09 Sep 2011

Smaller titles don’t always have to mean lesser games. Skydrift is an aerial combat racing game which completely flew under the radar, pun intended, but delivers a surprising effort out of nowhere. In races of up to 8 planes, contestants surge through lush and vibrant environments, trying to blast each other out of the skies at breakneck speeds. Soaring seamlessly from green landscapes into glaciers, only to submerge to huge refineries, this game thinks and looks big, while firmly grasping the jugular. While attempting acrobatics in order to survive the skeleton of a shipwreck, players will emerge into even more obstacles, all while being shot at. Mix in some Motorstorm mechanics as the environment collapses, explodes and shifts and the pressure will really be on, hard! If anything, Skydrift makes an amazing first impression and follows suit with the action portion as well.

NoobFeed Review - Skydrift
Skydrift, drifting through the skies.

A campaign of 7 tiers offers 3 race types to choose from. The first and main branch of the game is Power Race, in which the rule is whoever completes all laps the first. At certain intervals a number of powerups can be picked up to either protect oneself or destroy the opposition in a select array of weaponry. Up to two items can be held and each item can be picked up twice to make it more potent. Additionally, there is no speed boost powerup in the game; rather Skydrift employs a nice way to recycle trinkets. Powerups can be traded at the press of a button, which will then yield an amount of boost power relevant to the current racing position. This is a great mechanic, offering a unique style to an already individual game.

But extra speed isn’t only recycled. Planes can also perform tricks, such as hovering near the ground or slipping in between narrow spaces and crevices. The latter requires the plane to be put into knife edge position, after which it can barely slip in between two rocks by banking on its side. Now, this game is already fast, but the intense level design making constant use of these mechanics turns Skydrift into a game with never-ending adrenaline surges. In mere moments sweaty palms will appear as risk and reward is constantly juggled between more boost, picking up items and making sure not to crash onto the next turn.

NoobFeed Review - Skydrift
Skydrift puts bullshots to shame.

This sense of speed is amped up even more in Speed Race, which would see players just focus on getting to the finish as fast they can. By losing the weapons but adding air rings, players get a boost of speed by adeptly racing in between these circles. Fly through enough rings and even a sort of supersonic boom can be acquired, which takes planes to ludicrous speeds. It is here especially that the use of blurring the environment as speeds go up make for a frantic rush. It is almost impossible to keep up with trying to maneuver a plane and still get speed boosts without failing or crashing. But if anything, this is also still fun, even if air rings are widely regarded as a horrible game mechanic. The last race form is called Survivor, which works as an elimination round where the plane in last position gets periodically cut from the race until there is only one. Weapons are added in this race type again, so there isn’t a constant sense of freedom by simply being a good racer.

But the best part of all three modes and the game in general is that it all works. The sense of speed in the gorgeous environments is amazing and exhilarating. Additionally, controls are exactly as they should be, even if they are tricky. It takes getting used to and in reality it will never be easy to control a plane midflight, but planes aren’t meant to be in full control of their environment, as they’re suspended in air. By modifying this, the game would either become less realistic or take away some of the excitement of steering. Yet, be warned, this does make the game quite the challenge to start with. Racing games instinctually release the speed freak in us, where the throttle is never released. In Skydrift, the brakes are there to be used or crashing in one of the many sharp turns will occur; no exceptions. Also, there is never a moment of rest, without the game resorting to a rubber band mechanic, leading straggles back to the pack. While it is possible to slip ahead, races will usually be intensely close from start to finish, due to the difficulty and added weaponry making a takeover possible every second. It’s great to see a racing game keeping the race element in so well, as this is a big part of the excitement and the overall sense of accomplishment in the end.

NoobFeed Review - Skydrift
The environments are so versatile and challenging in Skydrift.

If there should be any downsides to Skydrift it is that the difficulty sometimes feels like it’s just one tad too much. While no race is impossible, rare will be an occurrence that doesn’t end in some trial and error. There is a set of 3 difficulties however, if things really get too rough. Secondly, while it is a small game after all, clocking at less than 500Mb, there isn’t a heap of content with just 6 tracks and 8 planes. Luckily, the stunning visuals and level design make up for a lot when considering this and by reversing tracks in 3 modes, the game does stretch these to their limits.

Lastly, online gameplay, or at least the lobbies, seem perhaps a tad too minimalistic. And as races don’t get completed with AI opponents, waiting for 8 players to offer a full race can sometimes take ages or tons of luck. Luckily, the online play itself runs smoothly and it’s fun to see human opponents mess up all the time. If the experience stays the same as now, there will be lots of rage quitting in this one.

NoobFeed Review - Skydrift
There will be lots of crashing and burning in Skydrift.

In short, Skydrift is breathtaking in every sense. With incredible level design and adrenaline pumping gameplay, this small game will race itself in the hearts of gamers. Perhaps the best racer since WipeOut, it takes that same idea and converts it into a more realistic idea of fighter planes and a load of weaponry and carnage, while keeping the speed. Even if it might get frustrating to handle, the overall excitement and tons of quality factors make up for so much, it’s hard to believe this is anything but a full retail release.  If there would truly be a need for speed, then Skydrift is the game to get that fix!


Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

comments powered by Disqus

  • Even though I'm horrible controlling a plane, I would've really enjoyed this game if there was a PC version.

    Posted Sep 09, 2011

  • @Sleven: I heard Skydrift is also being released for PC, but so far haven't found any info on its release date.

    Posted Sep 11, 2011

Related Review


General Information



Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): Digital Reality
Developer(s): Digital Reality
Genres: Racing
Themes: Arcade
Release Date: 2011-09-07

View All

Popular Articles