Review

Race the Sun Review

  • Game release: August 19, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Doomed journeys are often worth taking.

The phrase "race the sun" has a certain fatalistic beauty to it. Pitting yourself against that magnificent, distant star is an act of grandeur and boldness, albeit one founded on futility and a questionable understanding of celestial mechanics. Race the Sun has a similar quality; as you speed toward the horizon in your avian ship, the sun sinks ever lower and the obstacles in your way grow ever more numerous. Sunset or a head-on collision inevitably brings an end to every flight you undertake, but the thrill of flitting past impediments and staying in the race a little longer is alluring. And with shrewd objectives, accessible creation tools, and a clever multiplayer gimmick, Race the Sun offers plenty of enticement to keep striving onward.

Glide right, glide left, or fly straight ahead. These are your only options when you first dare to race the sun. As a swift ship (that also looks like a swift), you automatically speed ahead under solar power. You must maneuver to avoid obstacles and stay out of the long shadows of tall objects, lest your craft lose power and slow to a halt. Yellow pickups give you a temporary speed boost and raise the sun slightly higher in the sky, but that bright orb is always descending, and when it sets beyond the horizon, your run peters out.

The core mechanics are simple and slick; you move with a gliding elegance, barrel-rolling automatically when you drastically change your lateral momentum. A mellow soundtrack and a constant low hum accompany you as you whip across the barren landscape dodging polygonal obstacles. Spheres, blocks, and cones form the rudimentary landscape, and though you can graze or sideswipe an object and still forge ahead (after taking a speed penalty), a solid collision brings your run to an abrupt end. As you progress through regions, the obstacles grow more complex and move about more often, while the soundtrack ups the tempo and starts to exert pressure of its own.

All the while there are blue pickups to grab that give you points and increase your multiplier. These may tempt you to make some bold moves, threading your way through a field of irregular spheres rather than taking a straighter, safer path. More tempting are the aforementioned speed-boosting pickups, since they are essential to prolonging your run. Green pickups give you the ability to jump and avoid obstacles or reach elevated caches of points, while the coveted pink pickup is your "get out of collision free" card. These items are important to grab, but doing so requires that you cover significant lateral ground. Though the patterned environments eventually loop if you travel far enough to one side, they are big enough that you can miss items and alternate paths by staying too straight.

User-created levels can contain all manner of nefarious obstacles, like bunnies!

And so you wind your way back and forth, snagging pickups and dodging objects while constantly speeding forward. Race the Sun's difficulty ramps up rather quickly, requiring deft movements and smart terrain scouting and giving you less and less time to react. After you fail numerous times, the challenge set before you may seem too great, but Race the Sun does a few things to avoid causing despair. Every day, the course changes. These are procedurally generated worlds, so while you see plenty of familiar obstacles (like those infernal tunnels), the change of layout freshens things up significantly.

Additionally, you always have three objectives. Some of these can be fulfilled through sheer accumulation, like traveling a certain distance or jumping a certain number of times. Others must be accomplished by skill, like passing two regions without any collisions. Some of the skill-based ones also encourage you to play in a different way. Having to do 20 barrel rolls in one run makes you travel side to side much more frequently, while passing a region using only right turns forces you to look at the environment from an oddly skewed perspective. Accomplishing these missions grants you access to helpful abilities and bestows bonuses that instill a sense of progress, even if you still can't make it past the fourth region on a given day.

But even if you find yourself hitting a progress ceiling, there is a neat way to experience the difficulties that lie ahead. Whenever you finish a run, you are given the option to share a relay point via email, Twitter, or Facebook. This posts a link that lets another Race the Sun player start at the region you ended in with the score you had when you stopped. Every run can be extended into a four-segment relay, which could be passed back and forth between two players or tackled by three or four different individuals. It's a very simple system, but it works a treat. Leapfrogging with other racers can take you deeper into the race than you could otherwise make it, and the system engenders a nice kind of social camaraderie.

In space, you never run out of solar power.

The other social component of Race the Sun is fueled by the world creation tools. With these, you can create objects, lay them out on grids, alter the colors of the sky and ground, tweak the vehicle size and speed, and generally craft your own Race the Sun regions. You'll likely need to fiddle and experiment a bit to get the most out of them, but running your own courses and trying courses shared with the online community adds some variety to the package.

And at about $10, Race the Sun is an appealing package. The smooth sensation of flight through the austere landscape is both relaxing and intense, bringing with it the joy of escaping danger and the agony of meeting with disaster. Objectives and relays capitalize on these core mechanics, building out ways to enjoy the game beyond the basic play experience. Race the Sun is compelling in a way that could make it a daily habit, with fresh challenges awaiting every sunrise for those who dare to take flight.

The Good
Lovely minimalist aesthetic
Objectives reward progress and inspire experimentation
Novel relay system fosters social connections
Robust creation suite
The Bad
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Even though he recognizes the term "endless runner" for the oxymoron it is, Chris Watters still enjoys trying to press onward and outdo his friends in petty leaderboard squabbles.

Discussion

55 comments
Tylermaxx
Tylermaxx

Hippies being hippies. I understand the lack of quality games right now, but come on, don't give this an 8 because of that. It is like a restaurant serves poo as a special dish and critics are like "mmm, I can taste the furious feelings of an ass!" "pre-digested stuff are easier to digest, so you never feel full" however you cut it, it is going to be a poo still. Don't eat poo guys, even if they say it is good. Resist the poo! 

Wensea10
Wensea10

If players put a lot of time into it, this game is quite exciting...

Daavpuke
Daavpuke

These comments are absolutely terrible.

I really enjoyed the brilliant nuance and intertwined design of Race The Sun, how the shadow slowly cascades on the land and shows you safe paths, how the tiles build in front of you to always keep you on your toes, how gunning for pickups would always mean risking to take a sharp turn into death. It's a solid race game. Too bad people can literally not see back black and white shapes. 

faizanhd
faizanhd

Came here thinking it's some kind of Dark Souls spin off. XD

flexy456
flexy456

WHAT is wrong with the gaming industry recently? The last weeks, months even what I see is tons of reviews and games featured which look they come straight from the 80s. Horrible graphics and simple game-play..is this what gaming is today? I mean, guys, it really gets bizarre. The 9.5 rating of "Open drawers and read notes" game "Gone Home" did the rest. Something is off in the gaming world currently and I do NOT like it. As a result, your reviews also become questionable.


Edit: Games like that I played back decades ago on my Amiga, C64 even. Seriously people what's wrong. Get back to the roots. It's PC GAMING and CONSOLE GAMING and I am getting tired of those retro flash-type of games.

HesamB
HesamB

by seeing the pictures above, it really didn't suck me in, it spat me out .

Frederick Quatman
Frederick Quatman

Didn't they make a stupid Halle Berry movie with this title?

ClayMeow
ClayMeow

Didn't I play this on Kongregate for free? GS reviewing Flash games now?

c0mmanderKeen
c0mmanderKeen

Was about time someone made something like SkyRoads again :)

komuchen
komuchen

8? Really?

Where did you learn to fly?

waggs
waggs

The title "race the sun" immediately draws me in to learn more as it sounds like the title of a well written poem.

Cherokee_Jack
Cherokee_Jack

THIS LOOKS LIKE A IPHONE GAME HOW CAN IT GET AND 8

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

Blah blah "Graphics are shit" blah blah whine whine. It's only the price of a shitty MacDonald's "meal",Get a grip.

Renegade_Garrus
Renegade_Garrus

Guess shitty graphics dont count as bad when it's an Indie game. Double standards.

mucking_foron
mucking_foron

Some games sites must be mandated to give generous review scores to ever Indie game that comes out. Shame, read some Meta critic reviews. One of them gave this a 10/10. watch some youtube gameplay and

decide if this is worth anything. 

Shinra_Tensei4
Shinra_Tensei4

only $10 and people wants crysis like graphics. -_-

tweakgame
tweakgame

This shit not qualify for 1.1 how 8.0 f... U...C...K money well  played

Blue_Tomato
Blue_Tomato

8.0? Seriously? How dumbed down does games need to be these days?

guilhermepaypal
guilhermepaypal

Looks like vector graphics of the early 80's.... Don't make me laugh.

destemido
destemido

Game looks very enjoyable. Loved reading the review. Good stuff! =)

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Why doesn't it have any drawbacks?

boringdork
boringdork

@flexy456 From one Gamer to another, I suggest spending more time with your Wii U. My PS4 gets a lot of Netflix time, and its nice to replay stuff like Dust, Xbox One is essentially useless til Master Chief Collection hits.


Right now? Most gaming hours are logged on the Wii U.

Tylermaxx
Tylermaxx

@flexy456 WELL SAID!!! I have paid 400 USD for a device to play this cr*p???? WHAT THE HELL...

komuchen
komuchen

@Frederick Quatman Yeah, but dat shark movie from last year was better of course :)

Cherokee_Jack
Cherokee_Jack

@c0mmanderKeen Hey, this does remind me of Skyroads.

That should be exciting, but the thing is, Skyroads had colorful visuals and cool backdrops. This hews toward the boring side of minimalism.

Majkic666
Majkic666

@CUDGEdave you do there are many games like this free on browsers... dont really see why we should pay for this when its clearly like the other games and not unique in any ways

stev69
stev69

@CUDGEdave  Blah blah "its awesome because its indie" blah blah whine whine. 

So because its cheap it must be good? A turd by any price is still a turd.

mucking_foron
mucking_foron

@CUDGEdave I'd much rather have that shitty McDonald's meal. Super-sized of course!The way to man's heart is through his stomach.

Coldpain
Coldpain

@Renegade_Garrus I have to agree, to a degree. There is DEFINITELY a double standard for AAA titles when weighed against indie games.

Tylermaxx
Tylermaxx

@Shinra_Tensei4 no, I want something that is worth 10$ not something I wouldn't even touch if it was free. 

stev69
stev69

@Blue_Tomato It gets an automatic +5 for being "indie" and "hip". Yeah stick it to the man! 

mucking_foron
mucking_foron

@Zevvion Actually, I have to disagree with you about the industry. It's clear that microtrans, on disc dlc, dlc(in general), in game auction houses, pre-ordering (in general), aodrm have all contributed to make playing video games a minefield, one needs to navigate through the bullshit devs/pubs try to scam ppl for.

 I think flex is upset at the devs that have mostly contributed to the degradation of their own industry to the point where it's all about the money. Look at recent reviews for games on the popular sites. It's almost laughable at how biased toward developers these sites are. Trying to divert attention to the op just shows how far gaming in this climate has shaped your opinion of it where you see nothing particularly wrong with the current model game makers are trying to force on people like you.

flexy456
flexy456

@Zevvion You have no idea what you're talking about and your reply shows. You could well be one of those reviewers giving "raving reviews" to average games. First, I never would propose giving going home a 1.0 since, unlike you, and unlike the reviewer, I would be capable to make a good review which is fair and unbiased. 

GH has as much a justification to receive a 1.0 as it has to get rated 9.5. Second..I am amazed that you rate flash-type games which reiterate decade old genres with crappy "budget graphics" as "unique and new". Yes, you are right (SARCASM)..GH is "unique and new", because you run from one room, open drawers and read notes and search for a key. Amazing. I mean..I did this already back in the mid 90s...but...I guess because you say so it must be so, right. Note how she rated the game also as "rich", while the game itself (despite her saying differently) is INDEED a puzzle game (because it's all about finding the keys) and plays in one single environment, the one home. Nevertheless, it is a "rich" game, according to the reviewer.

You are more than welcome to spend your money on hastily made and re-hashed  games for the "social network" generation the game industry (with VERY FEW exceptions) caters to at the moment. I, however, have higher standards than that and I know I am not alone! (Why do you think have some recent Kickstarter projects received millions of dollars?) 

I am glad there is still a handful of game developers who see the problem..I can name them here: David Braben (the guy who is working on the Elite successor), of course Chris Roberts who is working on Star Citizen who basically tells any "flash game lovers" to eff off and develops for the PC only..and also Jade Raymond from UBISoft Montreal who also has an opinion on what actually makes a good game and who also opposes the current trend of super-simple games.  (You know, if I want to play such "new and unique" games I would simply run a C64 or Amiga emulator here and play the thousands of games from back in the 90s)

crazynotstupid
crazynotstupid

@Cherokee_Jack @c0mmanderKeen This seems much more artistic than skyroads (well...skyroads was great for its time). Have you played Limbo ? Now that is an example of how a very simple game can be very artistic.

Tylermaxx
Tylermaxx

@misternathan @Cherokee_Jack YEAH CAUSE THE GAMEPLAY IS SUPER INNOVATIVE. NOTHING LIKE I HAVE SEEN BEFORE!!!!

Tylermaxx
Tylermaxx

@Coldpain @Renegade_Garrus What if I told you AAA titles get better ratings because they are simply better. No propaganda, no bs, no conspiracy behind it. That they are just plain better.

mucking_foron
mucking_foron

@Zevvion @mucking_foron well dlc's are not a scam in particular but dodlc and mt's are. preordering a game with an extra faction or item is a scam or even a difficulty setting is!. look I'm not trying to offend you but you have to realize that the industry is changing and not for the better, in many important ways. OP wasn't insulting you so to attack him for his opinion isn't nice. You're not going to change how people think with your attitude.

Zevvion
Zevvion

@mucking_foron @Zevvion It's funny how you think DLC is a scam. You know, the only thing that is absolutely clear is how out of touch you people are with the gaming industry. Yes, DLC can be used as a way to make money, but no, there is no such thing as all DLC is a scam. 

Very shortsighted of you. I enjoyed DLC like Minerva's Den, Knife of Dunwall, Citadel and many more and if you're thinking those were somehow supposed to be included in the main game, you have no idea of the work ethic of many devs. It's pretty shameful if you think everything is a rip off. 

It must be a sucky world when you look on it through your eyes. Good thing I'm having fun regardless.

DrCyclopsX
DrCyclopsX

@flexy456 Why are you having such a difficult time understanding that people like things that you don't like?

And why does it make you so angry? This world wasn't made for you. It contains 7 billion other people with different preferences, attitudes and tastes.

Complaining about what other people like is just such a pointless waste of energy.

Cherokee_Jack
Cherokee_Jack

@crazynotstupid @Cherokee_Jack @c0mmanderKeen Yeah it's more 'artistic' but I don't think this type of game benefits from the style they've chosen. 

Limbo's graphics work because the game uses a very heavy atmosphere to tell a story and pull the player into its world. This game, like Skyroads, seems to be telling the story of "Go fast, dodge things!" which is pretty minimalist on its own, so it could use more vibrant, varied graphics to counterbalance that.

Race the Sun More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Unix/Linux
    Race the Sun is an intense action game in which you dodge obstacles at high speed while racing towards the ever-setting sun.
    6.1
    Average User RatingOut of 30 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Race the Sun
    Developed by:
    Flippfly
    Published by:
    Flippfly
    Genres:
    Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors