Endless runners – you gotta love ’em for the draw and addictiveness they bring. When that same endless runner changes every single day without fail, you’ll quickly see why I’ve fallen in love with Race The Sun.
But similarly, you’ll also quickly realise that if I was writing this on a different day, chances are Race The Sun wouldn’t be quite so loved.
Taking control of a solar-powered craft, your only goal is to delay the inevitable and race the setting sun. Moving left and right through stages which come at you at breakneck speed is the name of the game and it is up to you to dodge your way past obstacles, staying in the sunlight for as long as possible, and attempting to keep out of the shadows in order to allow your ship to keep its speed as you progress as far down the line as you possibly can. Crash and you die. If the sun sets, you also die, while a swiping glance on an obstacle will slow you down, ensuring that your score multiplier is reset and the inevitable death will approach just that little bit faster.
Everything about Race The Sun is fast. In fact, it’s very fast, but the ships that developers Flippfly have created are super swift vehicles which will happily swoop and barrel roll for you like your life depends on it. The control system is precise and on point at all times, and as long as you can find yourself concentrating on the matter at hand, will see you quickly become an ace pilot before you know it. Become distracted, or even dare to blink at the wrong time, and you’ll quickly be placed back at the start of the game and left to run through things over and over again.
Staying in the sun and getting as far as you can is only part of your mission though as blue ‘Tris’ are available for pickup, increasing your score multiplier with every yard you move forward. Green jump pickups are also in place, allowing your ship to hop into the sky and completely cut out the need for obstacle navigation, whilst yellow speed boosts see the setting of the sun delayed. At least for a little while. There are also region-warps and wormholes which are in place to save your sorry ass at the most crucial times – and you’ll need to pick up and utilise all of these should you wish to see yourself bettering your mates and placing higher on the worldwide leaderboards.
Like many endless runners – or at least games which originated from the mobile scene – there are three constantly rolling and rotating challenges in place at all times. These one, two and three point objectives need to be hit in order to see your ship, and your gameplay level, be upgraded. These upgrades will allow you to equip the likes of a bigger solar battery so you can last longer in the shadows, or even a double jump storage feature so you can gracefully dodge the really tricky bits. The trickier the challenge, the more points it brings and even though the core element of the game is to stay in the sunlight for as long as possible, trying to reach a level 15 multiplier, pulling off 20 barrel rolls in a game or just jumping 10 times brings a little further distraction. It is in these challenges where you’ll find the real draw of Race The Sun and the temptation of wanting to know what your next challenge will be, and the unlockable upgrade that the subsequent levels will bring, is as big a draw as actually playing the game itself. Most of the time anyways.
Visually it all works well too. There isn’t anything fancy about the minimal graphics that are in place, but due to the super fast nature of the game, there doesn’t need to be. In fact, it may just have been detrimental to the whole vibe that Race The Sun brings should the team at Flippfly have tried to be clever and deliver something with a higher graphical detail. Race The Sun is meant to be smooth and it’s meant to let the player zone in on the task at hand, and it does both of those things rather brilliantly.
Audio wise and even though the same loop is pretty much in place throughout, that looped music draws you in and urges you to go further and further with every try. Again, it’s nothing special, but once more it does the job intended of it and you’ll most definitely find yourself settling in for the night with that tune running around inside your head.
With the endless draw that is in place, and the constant daily rotation and amendment of the regions that Race The Sun will have you racing through, it’s most definitely one of those games that will draw you in for five minutes, before you soon realise that an hour has actually passed. It runs without flaw and will grab the inner speed demon inside of you, urging you to keep on going until your eyes bleed.
But there must be something that I don’t like about Race The Sun? Well, there are times when it feels wholly unfair and I’ve lost count of the amount of runs I’ve put together that have ended in a seemingly dead-end avenue, with little way of escape. The super jumping and wormhole powers which are in place should allow you to get out of most situations, but unless you’ve been lucky enough to find the correct one for each scenario, will find that you are pretty much flying through without hope. But then, hope ended before you even ever started racing that sun.
The challenges also annoy me a fair old bit. Whilst it’s good to see a rotating list of three challenges delivering one, two, or three points towards your level upgrade, from the very first day of my involvement with Race The Sun, to right now at my time of writing, the current three point upgrade objective which I’ve been set is nigh-on impossible to achieve. Attempting to complete 20 barrel runs in one super fast run is so far removed from my skillset, that it’s untrue. That then leaves me to do nothing but grind away with Race The Sun in an attempt to luck my way through the easier one, and occasional two, pointers. That obviously sees stupidly slow progress and Race The Sun is crying out for some kind of challenge skip or respin for times of utter need. Hell, I’d even go as far as be tempted to say that I’d welcome some form of microtransaction system should the challenges in place be as out of reach as they currently are. And my god, do I normally hate microtransactions!
I also pretty much despise the unlockable Apocalypse stages which have been put in place. Okay, maybe despise is a bit too strong a word, but I can’t in any honesty say I’ve enjoyed spending any time over on the most hardcore of Race The Sun stages. Whether that’s just because my skills don’t allow my to spend any longer than 10 seconds at the very most with them, then I don’t know. I see the reason it has been put in by Flippfly, but for all but the most hardened and skillful Race The Sun players, it’ll most definitely be out of reach and just a source of utter frustration.
As for the unlockable Labrinthia at level 25? Well, it may be some time before you get that far, but the maze-like labyrinth which you need to then navigate your way around is a pretty cool addition. It’s certainly a different prospect from having to constantly race the big bright magical star in the sky.
Other than those few issues, my time with Race The Sun has been a good one. Mostly. There have been moments when I’ve sat and prayed that the next day would see an easier run be put in place, and I’ve woken most mornings in the hope that would be true. Sometimes my hopes would be dashed and I’d be left to sit and see out another 24 hours before progressing too much, but most days have seen me dip in and out of Race The Sun on a fairly frequent basis, with that addictiveness I previously spoke about being hugely influential. And heading back in on a very regular basis is something I can see myself doing for sometime yet as the draw for the next level, and the promise of a new stage each day is more than enough to keep me excited.
Today I love Race The Sun. Tomorrow though? Well that may well be a different story. But at least I’ll only have to wait 24 hours before loving it again.