The arcade version of Night Driver is one of the earliest first-person racing games ever made, though it was predated by the German arcade game Nurburgring from earlier in 1976.
The player controls a car, represented by a plastic underlay rather than a computer generated graphic, in a timed driving simulation. The arcade controls consist of a steering wheel, accelerator, and shift lever. Points accumulate as the play continues without crashing, and additional time is awarded at 300 points. The score counter resets at 1000, allowing the player additional time when 300 is achieved again. Difficulty settings affect the frequency and radius of the curves throughout play.
The Atari 2600 version uses the paddle controllers, and feature color graphics, a rendered car, other vehicles to dodge, and various decorative features. There is no gear shift, so the car fully accelerates as the paddle button is depressed. Different modes of play include set tracks and a random track.
The Commodore 64 version includes gear shifting, and a higher resolution graphic of the car, similar to the arcade's overlay.
The use of reflective roadside markers helps suggest the illusion of gradual movement as the vehicle accelerates, cars in the opposing lane will honk as they are passed, and they show damage when crashed into.