By Chris Picone, 02 June 2023
I was a huge fan of Tony Hawk growing up and have been looking to fill that void ever since. I don't want the exact same experience though, so something like Driftwood that focuses on downhill longboarding instead of skateboarding sounded a real treat.
Very family friendly - almost cartoony, almost low poly, bright and colourful graphics that look surprisingly good when you're moving at high speed. The backgrounds are lovely and scenic, which is important as you're rolling down the hills as there's always a nice backdrop to check out while you're cruising. And when you do crash because you were too busy checking out the scenery, you're treated to a wonderful action replay of Eddy (the sloth) being launched into the air and getting knocked around like a ragdoll.
Similar to any skateboarding, although much simpler and adjusted for the downhill nature of the game: You can kick along to help speed you up when you're on flat ground or after a stack but most of the time you want to play with your aerodynamics, leaning forward and tightening your body to pick up speed down the hill or parachuting to create drag to slow down for the tighter corners. Speed is key though, as it's required to enable grinding and build up your trick meter, and there are bonuses for finishing levels within time limits. There are vehicles on the road though, which adds a nice little challenge to the game, especially when you meet them on the bends. Oh! And there are little secret shortcut tracks on each of the levels, keep a look-out for those. The longer you can keep a trick going or the more you can stack together, the higher the score you'll rack up. There are achievements in place for each level, and hitting these nets you some experience points which unlock new levels and aesthetics. This is one area I think the game could use some improvement: It's set up really well for achievements and unlockables and I'd love to see more of them.
This probably won't fill the void for those looking for a Tony Hawk replacement, but that's not a bat thing - it's just a different sort of game. Instead of focusing on trying to pull off high pressure and complicated tricks, it's all about speed and cruising. It's a much more chill sort of game, a nice way to relax in the afternoons although of course you can still compete for high speeds and high scores. I enjoyed the game as-is but would have liked greater variety in maps and unlockables. As a bonus, this is a very kid-friendly title.