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Shuuda avatar 10:47 AM on 09.02.2013  (server time)
Race the Sun Impressions

Race is the Sun is the recently released high speed score attack game by developers Flippfly. On the surface Race the Sun is a very simple game, featuring minimalistic controls and rules. Thanks to its procedurally generated tracks and potential for play made content however, this game has been stretched out into something a whole lot more than first meets the eye.

The goal of Race the Sun is to keep your ship running for as long as possible, trying to keep the sun over the horizon. The ship is solar powered, so if the sun goes down or you get caught up in the shadows for too long you power down and thus ends your run. The game has a cool downward spiral effect to it. If you bump into something you slow down and the sun goes down slightly. When that happens the shadows stretch further outwards and become a greater problem for you to consider.

Along the way you can increase your score by collecting as many of the blue pyramids, known as tris, as possible. You can also collect vital power ups on track. These include a speed booster which help keep the sun high in the sky, and a jump which you can of course use to give obstacles the slip and get tris which are floating in mid-air.

The main track in Race the Sun changes everyday and is shared across all players with an internet connection, meaning you can compare yourself to everyone else on the leader board once you've crashed on it.

The tracks are divided into numbered regions, each getting progressively harder. The first region will be full of static objects that are easy to avoid. The next region will usually bring in towers that case longer shadows, and the regions after that will bring in moving hazards and more.

One noticeable thing about the courses in Race the Sun is not just that they are long, but they also have a lot of breadth. You're free to move as far left or right as you want, and doing so can lead you to discovering a nice little path through the course whether it be full of power ups, or provide a safe way around an obstacle that was proving troublesome. This means that tracks can offer some variation every now and then if you choose to pursue it.

The biggest problem that sticks out about the courses in Race the Sun is the repetition. You'll end up seeing the same set up over and over on different tracks. This is to be expected I guess, given the nature and length of the courses, but when I see the same set-up of mountains with the same collectables lined in the same order it does feel rather bothersome. Perhaps one positive of this is that the patterns do make good for those looking to get high on the leader board. A good player can familiarise himself with the different set-ups and blitz the courses.

Another thorny issue that might effect one's enjoyment of Race the Sun is the unlock system. When you start the game you have virtually nothing, and all the power ups, modifications, and extras have to be unlocked by accomplishing various feats within the track and level up. Some are obviously fine by me, like completing three regions without any collisions. This makes sense since it's offering the upgrades as a reward for playing the game well. At first it has the feeling of being a nice little tutorial, giving you tips on how to use the items and upgrades.

However, other goals seem rather arbitrary and counter-intuitive, such as the goal of having eight collisions, or only moving right for one region. I don't like having to go out of my way to play the game badly or in some nonsensical manner just to unlock the upgrades and power ups which I feel are essential to being successful in Race the Sun. At later stages it stops feeling like a little tutorial and more like it's there just to drag out the game for as long as possible.

I find this irritating because Race the Sun is the sort of game that is perhaps best enjoyed in small bursts rather than long play sessions. You go in and give the daily course a few runs and then come back the next day for a bit. The unlock system means that instead you have to devote yourself to pointless tasks in order to progress.

The aesthetics of Race the Sun are very clean cut and simple, if not slightly bland at times. Everything has a grey, steel appearance, watched over by the changing colours of the sky. While they're not exactly exciting or mind blowing they do a good job of making everything clear when you're racing across the track. Player made maps are allowed to experiment with a bit more various, adding colour to some of the obstacles and even adding some more surreal touches to the skyline.

As well as the default modes and daily tracks you can also play a selection of player made maps. These can offer up some strange situations, like racing through a forest of cubist bunnies. Race the Sun comes packaged with the Simplex World Creator which they claim can allow you to create exciting new game modes or modify existing ones.

Finally, Race the Sun features an asynchronous co-op system which allows you to play relay races with your friends or just people online. Once your run as ended, you are given the option to share it online via a link. Someone can take that link and use it to start off again from where you ended. This can be done to a maximum of four times, at which point a combined score to be listed on a scoreboard. I think it's an simple and non-intrusive way of adding a social element to the game.

Race the Sun is definitely a fun title, especially for anyone who enjoys challenging themselves to keep doing better. Once you get through some of its obtuse objects and unlock the things that matter you'll find yourself shot with the need for perfection. The game isn't exactly offering the world, but at the low price of $10.00 it's a cheap deal for something with the potential of much more content in the future with its openness to player creativity. If this peaks your enthusasim you can check out their official website where you can purchase the game for $10.00.

You can also read this on my personal blog.

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