STAFF REVIEW of Race the Sun (Xbox One)

Saturday, June 3, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Race the Sun Box art Race the Sun is an endless runner, much like Temple run and others in the genre. You are tasked with running forever, or in this case flying until you inevitably crash. While simple in premise, there’s something relaxing about the endless runner genre, and even though Race the Sun is quicker paced than others, it still has a serene quality about it as you narrowly dodge obstacles and hover slightly above the ground. Your enjoyment may vary depending on the day you decide to play though, as the courses change every 24 hours, for better or worse; a great way to keep the limited content feeling fresh.

There’s no narrative within, and your goal is right there in the title: Race the Sun. You need to simply race to the sun in the distance, which is obviously not possible to reach, so seeing how far you can race before you crash or before the sun sets is your goal. You see, your ship is solar powered, so if the sun goes down you have no energy to continue racing and it’s game over. The challenge comes with the increasing speed and sheer amount of objects you’ll need to avoid as you hurl yourself constantly forwards towards the setting sun.

Gameplay starts out fast and frantic, and you’ll crash many times early on due to the learning curve of the controls and getting used to the speed. You’ll really need to ‘get in the zone’ and focus on what’s ahead of you, as you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to react, sometimes relying on pure instinct for your reaction time. Luckily when you do crash, the restarts are quick and you’ll make a mental note of what to avoid the next time.

The controls are as basic as they come, as you use the Left Stick to steer your ship, though eventually you’ll get the ability to jump with the A button once you collect the corresponding power-up. Since you always start at the beginning after each crash, you level up by completing mini objectives that are set out to you beforehand, with easier ones earning you one point, and the hardest nets you three points. Gain enough points and you’ll rank up, earning new customization options for your ship, or even other modes to play.

Once you gain the ability to jump, and collect the green jewel power-up, you can leap high into the air, gliding for a short while above all of the obstacles below. This allows you to get a quick overview of what’s coming ahead, but be careful of your landing, as you can crash into a wall just as easily. You also need to keep an eye out for blue orbs, which when collected bump up your multiplier for your score. The more you collect the faster your score will rise, but the longer your run goes the more difficult it becomes, so you always need to be focused.

There are two ships to choose from in the beginning, though I was unable to find any gameplay difference aside from the aesthetic. Eventually you’ll unlock attachments that will help your efforts, like being able to store two jumps or have the multiplier orbs magnetically fly towards your ship. The more you level up the more you’ll unlock, naturally, so it’s a little bit of a grind to get everything available to you.

Because of the breakneck speed you need to stay focused on what’s ahead of you on the screen, and Race the Sun has decided to use a minimalist style to help cope with the speed of which objects are thrown at you. The game looks bare bones basic, yet has a certain drab style to it even though the world is simply made out of rectangles, triangles, spheres and cubes. The world is passing you by so fast that anything more detailed would probably become a distraction, so it works. It’s not going to win any artistic awards, but the enjoyment comes from the gameplay.

As you level up you’ll eventually unlock randomly placed portals in the levels, which if flown into will whisk you away to a special serene world that is a slower paced and lets you relax for a few moments before throwing you back into the hectic speed based sun chasing stages. You’re also able to unlock a Sunrise mode, which is a slow paced endless mode. There’s nowhere near the amount of obstacles in this mode, as this is meant for a more relaxing gameplay experience with some chill ambient music in the background.

One of the most unique features about Race the Sun is that the levels you play are always the same but only in a 24 hour period. Each day the levels will randomly change, and even though it’s all the same objects, their placements will make for a completely different race each day. This can work for or against you. You can eventually learn a course inside out, but after the day passes, you’ll be given a whole new world to race in. One day I got really good at the courses, but once it changed the next day I found it much more challenging, so it can work both ways. On a more positive side, even though the content is very slim, this daily automatic level switching ensures the gameplay stays entertaining and fresh each day you play, allowing you to return on a very regular basis for a new experience.

To unlock the top tier attachments, and modes, it will take some dedication, and eventually gameplay does become easier, but no matter how good you get you’ll eventually crash or have the sun set on your gameplay. The pace is frantic, the speed is tense, and Race the Sun is a perfect pick up and play game that allows for short burst play. I don’t suggest sitting for hours at a time with it, as the courses change each day, but if you’re looking for a quick in-between game, you can try and Race the Sun, but your enjoyment may vary depending on the day.

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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