Review - Race the Sun


Review - Race the Sun
A bright future.
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There are certain activities in life where reaction speeds are everything: motorsports, piloting fighter jets…and playing Race the Sun. The title from Flippfly is finished after over a year of development and a beta test period, and it will test your nimble fingers, your reactions, and your daringness.

Race the Sun has a simple control scheme and a simple premise, but the game itself is anything but. You are tasked with piloting a nimble, high-speed, solar-powered craft across a procedurally generated world with one mission in mind: get as far as you can and rack up as many points as possible before the sun sets…or you slam into a wall, pillar or enemy at high speed and explode. It’s a challenge, especially after collecting a few speed boosts, and it’s quite a bit of fun. What keeps you playing is the online leaderboard, which naturally showcases how much better some other players are at the game, but at least it’s something to strive towards. And with every run, you learn more about the region, the safest route through it…and the most profitable.

Leaderboards are great, but they’re not going to keep you playing the same track over and over for weeks on end, and this is where Race the Sun is quite clever. The game world changes every 24 hours and the leaderboard is locked in place. So, if you’ve got the skills, your name will be visible on that day’s leaderboard indefinitely. However, unless your within the top 10, or you know exactly where you finished on each day, it can be tricky to find your own ranking as there’s no way to skip to yourself.

Flippfly has clearly taken cues from what gamers are playing. Like many AAA titles, Race the Sun features a levelling system. Rather than simply rewarding progress or scores, the game gives players challenges to accomplish and meeting the criteria earns players a level. These levels unlock perks, which can make it easier to accomplish higher scores. Some will increase your base multiplier, others allow you to equip a magnet which makes it easier to get pickups, while another allows players to equip a shield which enables them to survive a collision that would ordinarily result in a crash. These challenges keep the game fresh and make it about more than simply endlessly racing. Plus, you are encouraged to do a barrel roll!

User-generated content has been proven to be a great way of getting extra content into your game, extending the life span of the game, and finding some talented creators who produce some absolute gems. Race the Sun’s beta period has produced some interesting and fun levels that showcase some of the capabilities of the easy-to-use in-game editor. Again, the game thrives because of its simplicity here because it is possible to create challenging and interesting levels without having to learn complex systems and mechanics.

Race the Sun has a minimalist appearance, which works perfectly. You don’t need to be distracted by crowds, a packed HUD or flashing colours when barrelling along at speed and trying to navigate tight spaces. Instead, it is very easy to see pickups, where light ends and shadows begin and those obstacles that will spell the end of your run.

Race the Sun benefits from taking inspiration from games that have gone before it. Daily levels keep the game fresh, an easy-to-use level generator means that there are endless possibilities, challenges ensure that players always have a goal (if the top spot on the leaderboard is definitely beyond their reach), and the gameplay is accessible, yet challenging, and certainly engaging.

Race the Sun has just been released and is available here on PC, Mac and Linux for $10.

9 Stars: Recommended
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