Some games just don’t need to have intricate multi-layered depth, or a big story, or a big shooty multiplayer element. Some games are happy being simple, easy to control and addictive without making you think too hard. Race the Sun sits proudly in that category, a blindingly fast and simple to play arcade game which serves up one hell of a challenge which will not only test your reactions and timing, but serve up a whole new challenge on a daily basis.
The idea is pretty simple – guide your speedy solar-powered craft through a series of increasingly complex levels, dodging left and right to avoid the obstacles that show up ahead of you, all the while trying your best to stay in the sun and keep yourself topped up with energy. Over time you’ll be able to do more things with the craft, like collecting power-ups which let you launch into a looping jump, or hooking up a magnet to pick up collectables from further away. These extras reward you for trying again, having that “one more try” to reach higher up the global leaderboards and try to achieve the objectives that have been set for you.
These objectives, which range from score chasing to slightly more diverse tasks like performing a certain number of barrel rolls, help you level up, leading to more things to try out and keep a look out for. Portals will whisk you away to alternative areas for a while, mixing up your game even further. Decorations for your craft are also unlockable, letting you spruce up various parts of the ship. There’s far more to Race the Sun than you might initially think, and each day the levels get changed and you can start figuring it all out again. It’s very addictive, and despite each game only lasting minutes (if that) you can easily sit for an hour and pass the time by trying to get into the top 1000 scores. Then the top 500. Then why not the top 250? And on it goes.
Screenshots alone don’t really do the game justice, and while our early efforts didn’t prove very successful we still recorded some footage to include in the review – it shows how quickly the speed picks up, and even though we didn’t get too far on this occasion it’s easy to see what the game’s all about. It sits on top of a brilliant soundtrack which pulses along beneath the action in a way which drives you on without getting in the way.
The pickups you see become familiar very quickly – blue ones increase your multiplier, effectively making every metre you cover worth far more, while the green objects give you the chance to jump – a tactic used to either get out of impending trouble or reach higher areas if needed. The yellow objects are the ones to seek out for the longer runs though – these push you forward at great speed, and raise the sun in the sky slightly. Needing to stay in the sun to keep the energy charged becomes far tougher as it sinks below the horizon, lengthening shadows and making open sunlight a rare and valuable commodity.
The biggest thing to remember about Race the Sun though is that it’s a score-chaser. Any of you who don’t see the point in trying to beat your own score (and indeed those of others around the world) won’t see the point in this either. But for a quick blast, or a cheeky hour, Race the Sun has more than enough if its locker to keep you coming back.
Reviewed on PC