Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

Ross McGregor
PLUTONIZATION’s Rev to Vertex is a Touge racing simulator set in Hong Kong. Is the demo an encouraging sign of things to come?
Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

Rev to Vertex is a racing game devoted to the Touge racing scene of Hong Kong. It’s developed by studio PLUTONIZATION, based in the same location, with publishing duties falling to Z-Challenger (who are also currently helping run an esports competition with a €150,000 prize pool).

The project is heavily influenced by circuit and drift-racer brothers and producers Jason and Pluto Mok, ensuring the game has a solid basis in reality. But does that passion and attention to detail come across in the demo?

Read on, as we go under the bonnet of this intriguing racer and find out whether it’s an MOT failure.

Skid Row

The game’s PC-only demo appeared in November 2022 with a full release set to follow at an undisclosed date. This early free version has just a single car and track to sample. The vehicle in question is a wide-body Toyota Supra clone with what sounds like a V12 engine. I don’t believe that’s even a thing in the drift world…

The car reminds me of the old GT500 Supras from the Japanese Super GT series. It looks aggressive yet totally unsuitable for narrow mountain passes. Hmm.

Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

The track is based on a real piece of road – the Tsuen Wan Section of Route Twisk. It’s a public highway located in the hills above Hong Kong. Using real data, the 6.1km route is accurately mapped with road markings, street furniture and plenty of overhanging greenery.

The vistas look pretty and detailed, with sheer cliff faces looking especially realistic. Players surprised to see British-style road signage shouldn’t be alarmed, however, this dates back to Hong Kong’s British colonial past.

This kind of route is ideal for Touge runs; essentially mountain pass road racing. This includes drifting as well as point-to-point time trials.

Touge was born in Japan (Touge means ‘pass’ in English) and was made famous by the Initial D manga series. It’s been popularised by the emerging street racing sub-cultures throughout the nineties and noughties in Japan.

Losing control

Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

I had some issues setting up controls in Rev to Vertex. The game didn’t recognise my PlayStation 4 gamepad from the outset but my wired Xbox 360 pad did function eventually.

It’s clear from my tests this game wasn’t designed with gamepads in mind (at least, I hope it wasn’t). The vehicle handling is twitchy, verging on unplayable. Adjusting the speed sensitivity option in the controls menu mitigates matters, but the controller functionality is some way from the polished and weighty performance found in the Forza or Gran Turismo series as it stands.

The demo lap replay in Rev to Vertex showcases the clear potential of the game

Setting up my steering wheel and pedals (Fanatec CSL DD with ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 and CLS Elite pedals) was a similarly tricky affair. Despite cranking force feedback up as high as possible, Rev to Vertex offers very little feeling currently, creating a ‘floaty’ experience. I was able to map all my controllers though, even my Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake!

However, controller lag caused many a spin for me, while trying to initiate drifts again resulting in me quickly facing the scenery. I hope to sample Rev to Vertex in a later build to establish a more informed opinion on its car physics, as it would be unfair to judge it in this state.

This is a shame, but hopefully, the demo has been released to gather feedback such as mine.

Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

Look-to-vertex

The graphics give a solid representation of Hong Kong’s mountain roads, with overgrowing vegetation and roadside objects giving a great sense of space. Smoke and other effects are basic, however, with sparks, in particular, looking more like orange confetti. The overall look is realistic and, at times, pleasing to the eye. Depth of field effects aren’t obvious, however.

Slow-down and frame drops are frequent, and upon firing the game up later I was greeted to a glorified slideshow. And I’ve no idea why it happened. Bear in mind that my machine can play and record almost all sims in 4K on high-to-ultra settings, I don’t think hardware isn’t the issue.

Also, the recommended system requirements are eye-watering: GeForce RTX 3080 and a Intel Core i7 11700F anyone? I’ll just see if I’ve got a grand in behind the sofa…

Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

That’ll buff out, mate

Rev to Vertex uses Unity’s proprietary game engine, but there’s clearly work to be done on optimising the game’s code. At the moment, you’d struggle to differentiate Rev to Vertex from a solid Assetto Corsa Touge map mod.

Unfortunately, the car sounds like a weirdly digitised V12, and the gearshifts are disappointingly flat. The menu and in-game music are generic but of acceptable quality, however. (It must be noted that there are many recent indie racing games with excellent music too – Phaseshift and Gravity Chase spring to mind.)

More tracks and cars are set to be added, and the developer has stated these won’t just be restricted to Hong Kong. Perhaps we’ll get some famous Japanese Touge routes in future? We can only hope. PLUTONIZATION also promise to add car modification mechanics further down the line.

Rev to Vertex demo: Touge racer hits the skids

Whether or not I’ve been unlucky with my controller and graphics experiences remains to be seen, but from my perspective, Rev to Vertex requires a lot of work before it reaches v1.0.

Would it pass its MOT at this stage? Well, looking at the MOT certificate, Rev to Vertex’s exhaust is hanging by a thread, there’s significant evidence of corrosion and the driver’s door has just fallen off.

So, no.

There’s huge potential here, though, and if PLUTONIZATION can optimise the user experience and improve controller feedback Rev to Vertex will be a hit among the Touge racing community. It’s worth bearing in mind that the development team is made up of just a few people, so we should absolutely give them the benefit of the doubt and hope the game becomes more stable.

Have you tried Rev to Vertex? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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