Last summer I took a trip to Las Vegas for the first time ever. In the weeks preceding that trip, I was prepping myself for hotel downtime and in-flight entertainment, dusting off my mobile gaming systems and seeing what I could buy for casual play to get some fun in. Low and behold, Race The Sun, a cross buy racing-esque game was on special for the week on the Playstation Vita. I loved the visual concept and the quick and casual gameplay appeal, so I snagged it for a few bucks. I played a fair amount of it and absolutely enjoyed it the first time around, so when I heard it was landing on Xbox One, I had to jump at the opportunity to go back and play it on a journalistic level. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than my first go around with it.
Race the Sun is an on the edge of your seat “racing” game by Flippfly. I only put racing in quotations because you do not actually race other competitors, but time itself. You are in control of a solar powered ship that must fight to survive as long as possible, with a constantly setting sun off in the distance. The longer you survive, the faster you go. Stay in the shade to long, you will lose speed. If the sun sets, you die. If you smash into an obstacle, you die. This concept may sound cynical but it is extremely fun. The more regions you cross into, you will begin to see more frequent and mobile obstacles that put you in tense situations, grazing walls and narrowly avoiding death with almost every high speed turn. What keeps the game so fresh each time you come back to inevitably die is one extremely cool feature in that the world maps are randomly generated every so often. So while you may get used to a particular regions obstacles during a focused play session, coming back to it the next day is going to be a brand new experience. This is an extremely dynamic play style, making fighting for highscores that much more fun because the playing field is leveled pretty much every day. You might get a really good score with a certain level build, but find it hard to score higher with a new pattern you find complicated. It is a great way to keep such a casual game feeling larger in scope.
In that same respect, Race the Sun also offers progressive unlocks to keep players interested in working towards something. The game features a leveling system that allows you to complete tasks in order to level up. At the time of writing this, I have made my way to level 15, unlocking several upgrades and one additional game mode. There are multiple different power ups that allow you to jump, reverse the sun and gain additional time, as well as recover from smashing into a surface. Additionally, there are different perks, like being able to hold multiple jumps or even grabbing perks and tris (a collectable and point rewarder). As I also mentioned, there are other modes to unlock. The one I managed to unlock is titled “Apocalypse”, which is a higher intensity spin on the standard mode. In this mode, there is constant catastrophes, with objects crashing into the ground and a higher speed throughout. I would consider this a “Hard” mode of sorts. As intense as the base mode is, expect this one to be even more trying. Unfortunetly, the last unlockable mode “Labyrinthia” is only playable after reaching the highest level (25). I did not quite make it there yet, but from videos I have watched this seems like a more strategic approach, with no setting sun and a fine tuned maze type setting with traps and tricks around every turn. I plan on adding my thoughts to this review once I make my way up to unlocking it. The last mode, aside from the playable credits, is the “Sunrise” mode. This is a more peaceful mode, again with no sunrise. Don’t get me wrong, you can still die, but your chances of doing so are a lot lower. For a smaller title, the game offers a solid amount of variety.
Visually I think the game is catchy. It uses a sleek grayscale look, with colors of portals and upgrades lighting the otherwise bleak world. In the other modes, you get a lot more vibrant yet muted colors, with deep reds and purples lighting the sky. There is also some catchy tunes. Though they may get repetitive, if played in short bursts, you will realize that they fit each particular mode just right. The theme in the base mode just has a particular hook to it. It has an almost Egyptian adventure vibe to it, one that grows more intense as the time winds down, adding to the overall tension. It’s very well put together.
Race the Sun is a great experience. Its casual build is great and approachable for all audiences, while the leaderboards and growing difficulty will keep the competitive crowd coming back. It is more dynamic and varied than some might expect, and it remains so in a high quality way. If you are in the market for an adrenaline rush of a casual game, Race the Sun is the one to play. Do not get blind sighted and miss it, Race the Sun is an ever-changing, nail biting experience.
Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.
Final Score: 8/10
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