This really shouldn’t be the case in 2019, but we sometimes have a hard time convincing people that video games are a worthy hobby to pursue. There’s still a lingering stigma around our industry that’s really difficult to shift, mostly because an alarming amount of people still see video games as something “for kids”. Of course, they are for kids – just as they’re for everyone else. Video games are a universal hobby that can bring endless joy and light into people’s lives, and it’s our eternal crusade to get people to recognize this fact.
One of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal when we’re trying to evangelize about video games is the simple concept of fun. Sit someone who thinks video games are violent down with something that’s just good clean fun and they’ll swiftly reconsider their position. We’ve found hyper-casual games to be instrumental in this process; addictive core gameplay mechanics backed up by robust surrounding systems and an emphasis on pure gaming all add up to create something truly special for the video game skeptic.
We should be thankful, then, for games like Sling Drift on Poki. This is exactly the kind of thing we want to show people in order to convert them from non-believers to avid video game fanatics like us. Sling Drift is an arcade action game that comes to us from Tastypill, a studio seemingly of no fixed origin which creates casual games with a hardcore bent. The whole hyper-casual philosophy is constructed around this ethos, so it’s nice to see that continuing with Sling Drift and giving us yet another reason to recommend Tastypill’s games to all and sundry.
We say “all and sundry”, but if you’re someone who has a low tolerance for failure, then you might want to avoid Sling Drift. Failure is baked into this game’s DNA. It’s at the very core of the Sling Drift experience. This is a game not about surmounting the odds or reaching the end, but about seeing how long you can go until you fail. Inevitably, failure will happen in Sling Drift. In some ways, there’s something quite Zen about that. If you know you’re going to fail, then the focus becomes less about pushing to the end and more about enjoying the experience in the moment.
Tastypill provides plenty of reasons for players to enjoy that experience, too. The closest bedfellow to the Sling Drift experience would somewhat counterintuitively be games with grapple-style traversal. If you’re familiar with Spider-Man or the 2009 Bionic Commando reboot, we’re not a million miles away from that feel here. Of course, Sling Drift is far more stripped-back than either of those monstrously expensive efforts, but the basic idea of the gameplay is quite similar. Sling Drift is best thought of as a 2D analog to games like that, stripping out the ancillary stuff until all that’s left is the grappling.
Said grappling feels very smooth and natural, although there might be a slight jolt for those expecting an actual driving game with actual driving controls. There’s only one button required to play Sling Drift – pressing the space bar or clicking the left mouse button will attach your car to one of the grapple nodes near the corners of the track – but don’t let that make you think Sling Drift is easy. The fun, and the challenge, in the experience can be found in timing. Sling Drift is effectively a rhythm-action game in that players will need to find a consistent rhythm in order to pass corners unscathed.
The punishment for failure in Sling Drift can seem quite harsh, especially given that you’ll need to fail in order to make progress (more on which in a moment). Each time you die, inevitably by overshooting a grapple, you’ll need to restart the whole thing from the beginning. There is permanence in Sling Drift – you’ll make progress towards achievements each time you play, provided they’re cumulative – but the game encourages you to let go of your need to see incremental progress and instead wants you to focus on each individual moment of gameplay.
It’s easy to do so, too, because Sling Drift is – to put it simply – tremendous fun. The feeling of momentum as you swing from grapple to grapple is unparalleled. This may just be a “simple game”, as some might say, but it’s hugely enjoyable nonetheless. When we talked earlier about straightforward clean fun, Sling Drift is exactly what we meant. The gameplay loop here never lost its lustre for us across hours of play, and the extra unlockables and achievements which granted in-game currency were just icing on an already delicious cake.
Sling Drift should keep you occupied for many an hour. Simple visuals and low-key sound design contribute to a game with a solid core gameplay loop and a compelling unlock structure. If you can let go of your need to see truly permanent progress (if indeed you have such a need), then Sling Drift will be your new go-to game.