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Review: Race the Sun

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Endless Runner
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Reviewed Version: 1.531
Review Published On: February 7th, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Like most endless runners, this game records your progress at the end of a run.

While you can pause the game by pressing ESC, you can also expect to lose control and slam into something shortly after resuming the game, so I'm not sure it's worth bothering about.

Summary of
Major Issues:

This game is pretty clean, though it does feature explosions caused by bombs and the player's vehicle slamming into obstacles.


[view screenshot]
A wonderful day for a race

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Darkness falls

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Making the most of each moment

Game Overview

One of the main benefits of making an indie game is that the developers have a lot more freedom to experiment than the developers behind AAA titles. There aren't any rules or formulas, and they can simply try to find new ways to have a little fun. Race the Sun is an example of this sort of development.

In this game, you control a solar powered aircraft, and your main goal is to travel as far as possible. Normally, this sort of thing would be fairly simple: just dodge whatever might get in your way, and you'd continue on. However, there's a reason I mentioned that your craft is solar powered -- this flight is taking place near sunset. Without sunlight, your power reserves will fail, and the flight is over. This also means that it's not just the obstacles themselves that endanger your progress: the shadows they cast also cut you off from your power supply.

The game's world is also freshly generated on a daily basis. This means that you'll always have a new world to explore, but you'll also be able to replay the same world for a limited amount of time. Aside from obstacles, each world is populated by several different types of powerups. The most common of these are called Tris, and they look like glowing blue pyramids. While collecting them boosts your score, it's often a bad idea to go out of your way to grab some. Other powerups include a green star that raises the sun (ie, gives you more time), a green triple triangle that allows you to jump once, and a purple shield that teleports you to safety when you crash.

Note that all of these powerups aren't available at the start of your game. You'll need to unlock them along with other new abilities and game modes by completing various missions. Every time you play, you'll have three missions enabled. Some of them allow you to complete a task over the course of several runs, but many require you to perform their associated task during a single trip. This can be harder than it sounds, and unfortunately, there's no way to decline a mission once it's assigned.

Gripes with the mission system aside, this game's fun for an occasional spin, but don't expect to get hooked on it. From the looks of the leaderboards, most people either stopped playing before they unlocked the third game mode, or were stuck with impossible missions before that point.

Points of Interest

Four game modes
At first, you'll only be able to play the original game mode. Once you've proven yourself by completing enough missions, you'll unlock the Apocalypse mode, which is simply the same idea as the original, just at a far higher difficulty level. The third mode is the Laybrinth mode. You'll be flying through a maze instead of the usual obstacles. This is considerably harder than it sounds, as there's barely room for your craft between the walls.

The final mode is available as DLC. In this relaxing mode, you don't need to worry about a time limit or scoring. Just enjoy the flight.
Subtitles give brief messages
The game's title is shown as you begin each run. Below that, where you'd expect to find a subtitle, is a randomly selected quotation. There's a huge selection of them, but one that caught my eye was particularly unexpected: it's a series of three Bible verses ( Romans 3:23 > John 3:16 > Romans 10:9 ). Together, these form a very brief summary of the Christian Message.
Steam community features
There's a set of Steam trading cards available for Race the Sun, and there are 25 achievements for you to earn as you play. The easiest achievements revolve around scoring a large number of points in a run or reaching a certain level, while the harder ones ask you to perform some dangerous stunts or survive difficult portions of the game.

Another community-driven feature is the ability to create your own worlds and share them via the Steam Workshop. In addition to just giving yourself and others a fun ride, it's possible for players to be sent into a player-made world via warp gates found in the main game.
There's no way to reject missions you don't want
Whenever you have less than three missions active, the game automatically assigns more. These tasks can vary widely in difficulty, and if something is beyond your ability, there's no way to have the game discard that mission and assign a new one. This can lead to players getting stuck with three missions they cannot complete, ending their progress early.

Concerns and Issues

Lots of crashes
The majority of your attempts are going to end with your ship careening headlong into a stationary object. Despite the fact that many of the object you'll see look like trees, shrubs, and hovercars of some sort, all of the non-interactive objects you encounter are completely invulnerable. Your craft on the other hand, might as well be made of tissue paper, as it always completely disintegrates regardless of what it runs into.
Apocalyptic events
Late into a normal run, you'll actually need to dodge around nuclear missiles, their explosions, and the ruins of civilization. The second game mode, aptly entitled "Apocalypse", starts you off with the end of the world as we know it. This isn't graphic per se, but the bleak atmosphere might be a little frightening.