Funselektor’s Art of Rally ($7.99) is a gorgeous racing game that managed to live up to the hype when I finally played it on Steam. It features superb stylish visuals, great audio design, and has a surprising amount of content in its career and other modes. Before getting access to the iOS version, I had been dipping into it on Switch and Steam Deck to get into it on portables, and I ended up enjoying it a lot on Steam Deck specifically. I had known the Switch version wasn’t amazing, but both of them made me excited to finally check out the racer on my iPhone 15 Pro and iPad Pro. With Noodlecake behind the iOS version, I had high expectations, but the game in its current state sadly isn’t as good as it should’ve been on mobile.
If you’ve not played Art of Rally before, not only does it play great with a ton of content available from the get go, but it also is beautiful across the gameplay and menus. We often see great looking and elegant gameplay but a mediocre interface. Art of Rally makes sure to cover all bases, and also deliver an amazing soundtrack. It is basically a home run of a racing game that I hope more people play, but I wish it was delayed a bit more on iOS to be a better port.
We know that the Art of Rally Australia DLC is coming alongside the Android version, but even in its base game, it is content packed and over delivers in value for its low asking price on iOS. Right off the bat, you can jump into the lengthy career, go for a time attack with various customization options for that race, create and play a custom rally with various settings, take part in the online daily and weekly events with leaderboards, and go driving in the free roam mode. Despite being a rally racer with a lot of work put into the handling, feel, sounds, and more, Art of Rally has a lot of accessibility options to make it approachable by newcomers to racing games. These include difficulty settings for the stability, anti lock braking, transmission, counter-steer factor settings, and more.
The custom modes let you adjust the AI difficulty and even disable performance damage completely while you choose your own location and stages for your rally. These settings are also present in the campaign that begins in 1967 in group 2 covering how rally racing grew in popularity. As a game, Art of Rally is constantly a delight to experience across its visuals, gameplay, and sound design. I just wish its mobile debut was better. I really wonder what state it was in last month when it was supposed to release before it got delayed because of how it feels unoptimized even on iPhone 15 Pro given the visuals and performance.
When it comes to the controls, Art of Rally has controller support and touchscreen support, but neither are perfect. On the controller side, the game sometimes just doesn’t register inputs in a specific menu. As an example, going into options and then graphics with a controller works fine. Going into advanced settings will result in the d-pad or analog stick not working so you either need to use touch or press the back button. This happens in photo mode as well sometimes, and I even had the game display keyboard prompts like E and F12 for some reason in one photo mode menu on my iPad. I’d recommend checking out the camera settings and trying out different views and disabling the screen shake if you get motion sickness like I do with it enabled in some games.
On the touch side of things, the controls are acceptable but I didn’t see any way to adjust the size or position of any controls on either iPhone or iPad. The controls work well assuming you get used to the size and positions, but you can’t do anything else right now. This is as of the latest build on the App Store on January 24th. I also had some menus not respond when I tapped the continue button using touch controls. I had to back out a few times to get it to work. I hope this can be improved at least because I just assumed the touch controls at least would be fine.
On iOS, Art of Rally lets you adjust the frame rate target between 30 and 60 (120 might be coming later I’ve been told), overall quality setting (low, medium, high), vegetation cutout (when your car is obscured), and individually adjust advanced settings. These include bloom, blur, film grain, shadow resolution, shadow distance, draw distance for vegetation, and particle quality. You can also enable a dark mode for the menus which is very nice, like in the PC and console versions. Check out a comparison below of the game on iPhone 15 Pro (left) and Nintendo Switch (right):
On iPhone 15 Pro, the only way I could get the 60fps mode to run well is setting it to the low graphics preset. Anything above caused frame pacing and stutter at points. Playing at 30fps and high settings is more or less fine, but both modes have a lot of visual popin for foliage and other things in the environment. Adjusting this manually in the settings is still not enough as I constantly see trees popping into view close to the car on either side of the road. If this is how it runs and looks on iPhone 15 Pro, I can’t imagine how it is on older phones.
On iPad Pro (2020), it doesn’t feel like it is coming close to 60fps at either high or low settings. I feel like this is a bug or it isn’t optimized for my iPad at all. I know it is an old iPad now, but this is worth noting if you have a similar one. I assume it runs a lot better on the M1 and later iPads.
In terms of iOS features, it has Game Center achievement support, but I couldn’t get the iCloud syncing (if included) to work. I always want to put a disclaimer on the iCloud aspect because of how unreliable it can be in the first place. If it does have iCloud syncing, it has not worked for me across two devices (and two others I tested at home on another account).
When comparing Art of Rally on iOS (on my devices) to Switch and Steam Deck, the iOS version is a lot better than Switch even when playing that docked. I’m surprised at how poor the Switch port looks and runs. The Steam Deck Version is superb though, and my favorite version of the game by far. If you have access to a Steam Deck or play on PC, I definitely recommend getting Art of Rally there. While the iOS version is priced very reasonably, I don’t think it is worth buying unless you are ok with the visual and performance compromises needed even on the newest iPhone to get it running well, and it still has some control issues. I’ll be revisiting this when it gets updates, but I am disappointed in the technical aspects of Art of Rally on iOS right now.
In its current state, Art of Rally on iOS is sadly not a great port. This should have been the definitive portable version of a superb racer, but it is just in between the bad Switch version and the great Steam Deck version. Performance and visual issues aside, it doesn’t even have good touch controls. I got used to them, but I’d recommend this with a controller for now. Noodlecake is usually great, so this is a rare misstep from the team. I hope it does get fixed because Art of Rally is worth owning and playing at full price, but I can’t recommend on iOS without some caveats unfortunately despite the low asking price on mobile. Hopefully by the time the Android version and DLC release, it will be in a better state.