A long time ago I was writing budget gaming articles for Indie Game Mag. During that time I called out to developers producing anything budget-minded or free to put in the feature. One of those developers was this rapscallion duo of brothers producing something called ‘Race the Sun’. The game was a free game on Kongregate, largely just a free runner with an added challenge of never letting the sun go down. I’ve only ever lived with the intention of dancing until the sun went down, but never quite could come to terms with the fact that if I danced hard enough in the direction the sun was setting, that it would mean I could dance all day. ‘Race the Sun’ wants me to dance all day.
Largely, this is because ‘Race the Sun’ has come a long long way. Back when I played it in its mere alpha stages, it was a no-frills runner. The boys at Flippfly have taken this mild curiosity and turned it into a full-fledged product. I played for around 5 hours to get to level 25, which is the hard level-cap. I haven’t spent 5 hours with a runner since ‘Runner 2’ and that is often my best example of a runner done right. A large problem I initially saw plaguing a full release of ‘Race the Sun’ was that it lacked goal elements, a game element crucial to my interest in playing any runners.
In ‘Runner 2’ the motivations were doused in a level-by-level completion goal, whereas ‘Race the Sun’ challenges with high score runs. These become easier as you work your way up the level scale, because you’re unlocking ship modifications and logos. All of the unlocks and leveling in ‘Race the Sun’ are gated through a challenge system where certain goals must be completed during a single run. These goals can range from straight-forward endeavors, like complete two regions without collisions, to obscure missions, such as only turning left through a region. These challenges kept me playing, regardless of how successful my runs were.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmjAg0e_YYU&feature=youtu.be]
The speed and feel of the game on a PS4 controller was blazingly fast and smooth. The game runs at a pristine framerate with no hiccups and the controls respond really well. The feel of games like ‘Race the Sun’ is crucial to them being enjoyable, and ‘Race the Sun’ absolutely nails the control responsiveness. The technical proficiency is a nice bonus but it would mean nothing without good design.
And the design is just fine, and it feels like Flippfly is reaching for ways to keep people invested in playing their game. Every day the world of ‘Race the Sun’ is reset and the course changes. The changes are always interesting and it’s cool to go back and see what’s new whenever the timer runs out. Unfortunately, this and the two game modes don’t scream longevity to me.
This leads me to my first and only issue. Once those goals were gone, I found little reason to continue playing. There are two other game modes to play aside from the basic ‘Race the Sun’ mode. You have an “Apocalypse” mode to ramp up the difficulty without having to clear multiple regions. Then you have a mode you unlock at level 25, which I won’t spoil for you, that adds a new element to gameplay as well. For me the time with the regular game was plenty, but the other game modes just aren’t as good as the basic mode. And once the goals are gone, it becomes a battle of making it onto the daily leaderboards. I think if I owned a Vita, I would play this on the go, but I likely wouldn’t be booting it up on my PS4 on the regular. This is an ideal Vita title, because it makes sense to play this on the go.
In My Opinion: Other than not being able to see myself continuing on with ‘Race the Sun’ until I manage to steal a Vita, I found little issue with ‘Race the Sun’. This indie release is a special one, because it will quickly grab you and let you go, then call you back in without ever requiring anything from you. You could spend 5 hours on this like me, or get lost in it for awhile. Regardless of how much more time I spend with ‘Race the Sun’, I think it is an outstanding game that truly utilizes cross-saves and cross-buy to create a logical relationship between game and console. ‘Race the Sun’ is a solid offering from Flippfly and a perfect game for any Playstation owner’s collection.
Check out ‘Race the Sun’ at the Official Website.