By: Ted Chow
Race the Sun is an endless racer originally developed for the PC by Flippfly and now being ported over to the PlayStation. You take command of a solar-powered spaceship as you traverse a multitude of obstacles all while chasing the sun before your batteries run out. As a Kickstarter project, the game has come a long way to what it was at first launch, and that shows the dedication of the developers to continue their support for the game.
The controls are pretty simplistic with the majority of your inputs being left to your left analog stick for movement. Beyond that, you may occasionally press X for activation of specific items that you acquire within the game. Overall, the controls are simple and clean.
Given the pseudo-procedurally generated levels of the game, Race the Sun is rather minimalistic in the aesthetics department and relies mostly on basic shapes to convey the environment. This does give the game a bit of a clean look as its plays well with the negative-positive space. It provides that vibe of a paper spacecraft skimming along an endless plain of printing paper with the sun casting shadows for environmental context. As an art choice, that immersion gave the game a bit more character than what you’d perceive on the surface. The soundtrack doesn’t add too much to the experience and is rather inconsequential.
As the name implies, Race the Sun is a racer that puts you into the driver seat of a solar-powered space vehicle to chase the sun. You become incapacitated when you either crash into obstacles or the sun sets and you run out of energy to continue. Your goal is to survive as long as possible and gather as many points as you can for your end score. The scores are pinned against other players in a daily leaderboard for those that like competitive play.
To assist you in your journey, you are presented with a variety of power ups and upgrades for your spaceship. Power ups are found within the game and are unlocked once you level up to particular ranks. They provide additional multiplier bonuses for your score, increase the sun’s duration, shields or even the ability to jump.
In order to level up, you need to accomplish certain achievements or milestones within each playthrough such as traveling a certain distance or crashing a specific amount of times. Upgrades to your ship are acquired with level ups as well, except they are in constant effect – for example, increasing the radius from which you draw in power ups.
With the pseudo-procedurally generated levels, you won’t necessarily have the same experience every time. The game changes the world layout every 24 hours and encourages you to come back to find different obstacle courses each time. This is particularly beneficial for the PS Vita version as it is something you can kill some time with outside the house. It also increases the longevity of the game’s fun factor, though it is best played in short bursts.
Race the Sun plays more like a mobile game than it does a sit down experience. While the game is solid in every aspect, there isn’t much reason to play for extended periods of time, unless you are somehow compelled to reach the global score for the day. Overall, the game is fun in short intervals and gives enough reason to come back every day with global map and leaderboard resets.