art of rally Review

Richard Walker

When you start up Art of Rally, you'll confirm a few details about yourself, including, bizarrely, your blood type. Having played developer Funselektor's esoteric racing game for hours on end, I'm still none the wiser as to why my blood type is required, and the only question I have is: what is my blood type? I don't even know. And it doesn't matter, either, because Art of Rally is a remarkably fun and rather unique rally racer: a stylised low-poly experience with an isometric viewpoint, the camera floating overhead at a respectful distance, far out of the reach of flying gravel and swirling dust. It's almost like Micro Machines grew up and left the messy breakfast tables behind.

Fast racing, soothing cherry blossoms.

Inspired by a golden era of rally, Art of Rally's Career Mode begins in 1967, with analogue versions of classic rally cars appropriate to each time period, like 'The Meanie' (a 1965 Mini Cooper) and 'The Esky' (a 1968 Ford Escort). As you progress through the seasons, the years roll by, and you'll move on to new groups of rally car, including the iconic Group B monsters of the 1980s, such as 'The Cozzie SR2' (1985 Ford RS200), 'Das Hammer V2' (1985 Audi Sport quattro S1), and the aptly named 'Il Monster' (a 1984 Lancia 037 Rally), before culminating in the modern rallying classics of the 1990s.

Each vehicle has unique handling and attributes to grapple with, across a variety of different surfaces in iconic rallying locations, like Norway, Finland, Sardinia, Japan, Germany, and Kenya. The behaviour of your car is noticeably different when driving across loose gravel as opposed to tarmac or dirt, and, despite appearances, Art of Rally is surprisingly intricate, demanding total concentration during its point-to-point races against the clock. Career Mode is but half the story, however, as Art of Rally's locations also extend to large free-roam environments, where all constraints are removed, and the only objective is to thrash your chosen car around while searching for collectibles. Free roam mode is a wonderfully meditative thing, taking in pretty, low-poly scenery, while tracking down tape cassettes, picturesque viewpoints, and the letters to the word 'RALLY' – all set to an upbeat synth soundtrack.

New cars and liveries are gradually unlocked as you make your way through the seasons of Career Mode, of which there are more than sixty individual rallies to tackle, punctuated by repairs. Art of Rally's exotic locations are uniformly attractive, whether it's the crisp snowy expanses of Norway; the terracotta-hued plains of Kenya with its watching gazelle, elephants, zebras, and giraffes; or the temples and bright-pink cherry blossoms of Japan. You can't help but be pulled into the track snaking out ahead of you, the camera gently pulling away as you gather speed, and woozily zooming in when you're slowly rounding a sharp corner or sweeping bend.

Minor graphical issues – like scenery clipping into animals and other objects, or shadows being drawn in at the last second – do nothing to dampen the mood, either. Art of Rally looks great, its flat textures are strangely soothing to behold, despite the trackside objects (apart from silly spectators spilling onto the road) remaining static, and its UI is crisp and clean. But it's the handling that keeps you coming back for more. Art of Rally is consistently engaging and enjoyable; the feeling of nailing a particularly tricky chicane, traversing a steep incline without ending up in a ditch, or sliding around a curve sideways is every bit as gratifying as it is in a major racing game release like DIRT, Forza, and the like.

It's not a BMW, it's ‘das whip’.

Time Attack, Custom Rally, and online events like daily and weekly challenges flesh things out, while time of day and weather effects imbue races with extra spice, snow, rain, and fog or nighttime darkness presenting different obstacles to overcome. Upon first glance, Funselektor's stylish ode to rally might look simplistic, and, to an extent, part of its innate appeal is in that ostensible simplicity. Scratch the surface a little, however, and you'll very quickly discover that there's far more to Art of Rally than meets the eye. It's an intuitive, deceptively deep, and far more entertaining racing experience than it has any right to be. Vitally, however, Art of Rally has spurred me on to finally find out what the hell my blood type actually is. How many other games can lay claim to that?

art of rally

Art of Rally is an unbridled joy, its Career Mode and free roam options, in particular, providing hours of rally driving nirvana in an appealing package that celebrates a glorious, golden era of off-road motorsport.

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Decent engine sounds and a synth soundtrack make up the sum total of the audio in Art of Rally, but then, what else do you need?


Granted, it's not Forza Horizon, but Art of Rally has its own low-poly charm, despite the occasional bit of clipping and shadows popping in late.


Pick up and play, boasting customisable difficulty (you can adjust the AI and damage levels to your liking), Art of Rally is enormous fun with surprising depth.


Free roam, Career, Time Attack, and online events with leaderboards offer more than enough to do, while everything is presented elegantly. A few little glitches here and there do nothing to spoil the party.


A really nice list that doesn't ask too much, other than grinding out 1,000 stages, which will take a long, long, long, long time. Other than that, there's a good spread of tasks on offer.

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