SkyDrift is a racing game with planes, and gameplay similar to Slipstream 5000. Players get to steer an aircraft through various locales with three racing types: Power Race to cross the finish line first using power-ups, Speed Race without power-ups but with speed rings to gain extra speed, and Survivor where the aircraft trailing the pack is eliminated until there is only one left.
In the main Campaign mode different tracks, skins, and aircraft are unlocked gradually. There is a tutorial and seven stages, each divided up further in different races. The racing environments offer a certain amount of freedom with obstacles, events, and shortcuts through the natural surroundings. Next to the regular steering controls with an additional acceleration button, boost is the most important aspect to win the race. The limited amount is refilled slowly, but the player can gather more by destroying opponents, performing stunts of flying low near the ground. For sharper corners the plane can be turned into a vertical knife edge position left or right. When crashing or destroyed by an opponent, the plane respawns after a short cooldown time.
During Power Races power-ups can be picked up. These include a cannon, missiles, mines, shockwaves, shield, and repair. Up to two can be collected at any moment and it is possible to cycle between them. Power-ups can also be converted into additional boost instead of deploying them. When a second power-up of the same type is collected, they are upgraded to a second level. The game offers online multiplayer for up to eight players in regular deathmatch and team deathmatch races. During team deathmatch using repair and shield affects nearby team mates.