Imagine a world where Group B racing was never cancelled and where a giant Buddha introduces you to the concept of the world you’re in. This is how we kick off the zen-like Art of Rally, a racing game that stands out for its relaxing, meditative atmosphere as opposed to the high-energy chaos of your traditional racing game.
Art of Rally comes from Funskeletor Labs, the company also known for Absolute Drift. The game allows you to race through the golden era of rally, from the 1960s through the 1990s. There are eight camera settings, four damage settings, four difficulty levels to help you navigate your way through career mode, and the variety of cars you can drive actually do have palpable handling differences.
I’ll be fully transparent with you all here: I am not a gamer. Art of Rally is the second game I have purchased for my own personal use on my Switch, with the other one being Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I suck at Mario Kart. I am, to put it simply, Pretty Bad.
So it’s no surprise that I’ve been really struggling to master the controls, and even changes to the settings that correct over/understeer and prevent brake lock-ups haven’t proved particularly fruitful for my success. I spent hours on the autocross course in the Finnish rally alone, resetting the freeplay level every time I reached the point where I’d knocked over so many cones that I couldn’t tell where the track was anymore.
This, I believe, comes down to my own ineptitude in the video game world. I checked out some other reviews, and most folks noted that there was a learning curve but that they successfully mastered the art of drifting, braking, and handling. Presumably, I just need more practice!
What I love about this game beyond all else, though, is the fact that it is laid back. Like I said before, I prefer the chill atmosphere of Animal Crossing to quite literally everything else (even Stardew Valley is too stressful for me). But the soft art style, the gentle synth-y music, and the comfortable minimalism of Art of Rally was relaxing, not stressful. Instead of getting overwhelmed and quitting after my first few efforts, the minimalism was almost intoxicating. I kept wanting to come back and try again.
The game is available on PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam and GOG if you’re fond of playing on your computer, but you can also play it on your PlayStation, Switch, or XBox.
I still have a long way to go to master this game, but I do know one thing: I’ve fully embraced the challenge of this game where I normally find myself giving up.