Did you ever play an old flash game called ‘Cubefield‘? It basically revolved around the idea that you were a small ship (or arrow, but you can use a little imagination) flying through a vast expanse populated by multiple coloured cubes. The idea was to progress through this ‘field’ as far as you could, dodging the cubes as the game sped up, and seeing how many points you could rack up before you inevitably collided with an obstacle and failed. You can play this game for free here, but that’s not what I’m here to review.
Race the Sun definitely isn’t a sequel to this game, and may not have been affiliated with it in any way whatsoever. But while playing Race the Sun, I certainly got nostalgic about the simply endless game that came prior, and I imagine you’ll see why when trying it out for yourself.
The rules are simple and in fact set out in the title of the game itself: race the sun. You begin already in motion, piloting a small, silver ship at breakneck speed, and must continue forwards as long as possible until either the sun sets and you run out of energy, or your ship collides with an obstacle.
However, there’s a few variables in this experience which keep every playthrough fresh and give you more and more chances to beat your previous high-score. For example, you can collect pick-ups in the form of golden tokens which cause the sun in the distance to rise slightly higher in the sky, therefore allowing you more time to continue playing – due to the fact that without these pick-ups, the sun is constantly falling at a set pace. Through the completion of certain objectives – such as doing 20 barrel rolls in a single run, or completing three ‘regions’ without hitting anything – you can eventually unlock even more pick-ups to expand your chances, such as the ability to jump high over obstacles. Although the variety of these abilities could be expanded upon, they allow for a certain level of replayability which keeps things fresh. This is especially important considering the otherwise blatant simplicity of the game.
The graphical style of Race the Sun is practically the definition of style over substance. Every item is lacking in terms of texture, which makes the game feel eerily desolate and bare. This isn’t necessarily detrimental to the overall experience however, as it creates a unique atmosphere which in itself makes Race the Sun stand out amongst similar titles. The ship which you pilot in the game also follows this incredibly simplistic design, and although you have the option eventually to apply decals to the wing, it would have been a nice feature if you could customise it even more. This would create a sense of progression which, although present, definitely needs expanding upon.
Race the Sun incorporates a mechanic which essentially generates a completely new set of levels every 24 hours; something that means daily playing is never an identical experience. However, this is only every 24 hours, meaning that playing for hours at a time is something I genuinely can’t envision myself doing.
To come full circle: Race the Sun is similar not only in mechanics to that dated flash game ‘Cubefield‘, but also in how much time you’re really willing to put in to it. Sure, it’s fun occasionally for a quick burst of high-speed shape-dodging, but playing the game for extended periods of time is impossible due to the lack of extensive variety. There’s two other modes you can unlock by achieving highly in the basic version -one of which is titled ‘Apocalypse’ and is essentially a hard-mode – but other than that it’s mainly small abilities which make up the entirety of the variation.
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