Race The Sun – PC
Developer: Flippfly LLC
Publisher: Flippfly LLC
Release Date (NA): August 19, 2013 (December 9, 2013 on Steam)
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Malefico
Race The Sun is a fast-paced action game in which you pilot a solar-powered craft across obstacle-laden terrain in a vain attempt to, well, Race The Sun. Developed and published by Flippfly- makers of Monkey Drum, an animated music creation program, Race The Sun packs fast-paced, smooth-scrolling action into a very palatable package.
Race The Sun controls couldn’t be easier. Your solar ship is controlled by the arrow keys. Menus are navigated via the mouse, and either clicking or hitting enter confirms menu choices. The Space bar allows you to activate items you’ve picked up as you travel through each Region (level). That’s pretty much it. If you prefer a more console-like experience, Race The Sun supports USB controller action. The POS handled RTS at 1440 X 900 resolution, on “Fantastic” quality so the game is well-suited to low-end systems. Frame rates never dipped out of the high 50’s even with all manner of polygons flashing by.
The goal of the game is to run for as long as you can, as fast as you can scoring as many points as you can against the inexorable setting of the sun. Blocking your path are variously shaped polygons that must be avoided, and “Tris” that add to your score multiplier. Brushing against an obstacle reduces your score multiplier. Smashing into an obstacle reduces your ship to an expanding cloud of smoke and debris. Better luck next time.
There are other hazards and rewards as well. Allowing your ship to slip into shadow reduces your speed, while there are also power-ups that boost your speed thereby “slowing” the setting sun) and convey other abilities. Between levels, a large bird drops items that can be picked up. The more progress you make, the more items you unlock (and are therefore to be found scattered throughout the regions).
The graphics in Race The Sun are simple but effective, and create a very compelling game environment. One of the nicest effects is the transition from high noon to afternoon, then dusk. As the sun sets, the shadows grow longer, adding another element to the futility of your journey.
The music is good too, both ambient and upbeat but never jarring. Rather, it adds to the overall experience, providing both pace and counterpoint to the action. (Special thanks to FSF for making this review possible…)
Your solar craft is customizable via decals, and you can also add to its abilities in the Configure Ship menu.
Regions are procedurally generated, but the game also allows users to create their own worlds, albeit user content is not tracked on the leader board.. The game world is re-created every 24 hours, instilling infinite re-playability in the title.
As noted above, the game also features a leader board so players like me can internalize, yes, truly embrace the fact that they are far down on the list and that situation is unlikely to change.
The Bottom Line
Race The Sun is fast. I don’t mean that you start out at a moderate pace and at some point realize you are moving along at a pretty good clip. Uh-uh. You’d better be ready to duck and dodge immediately or you’re going to be part of the landscape. This is not your mommy’s casual indie game.
Luckily, RTS draws you into its world and is reluctant to let go.
For all the simplicity of the game world, it manages to seduce and encourage you mainly through slick, smooth scrolling and the fluid animation of the objects in the environment. Block rise and fall, tip and tumble. Pillars come to rest, and wide open spaces narrow to death traps in far less time than it takes to write this. And the shadows deepen and lengthen without respite. Without a doubt, this game proves you don’t need fancy sprites to get the job done. I can honestly say I’ve never seen an environment quite like Race The Sun.
What else need be said? Race The Sun compels you to continue, to keep fighting, to hang on despite your inevitable fate. Even though you understand you’ll never reach the end of the terrain, you want to try again just to find out what will come at you over the horizon next. This title is well-structured in that as you do last longer, either as you pick up the rhythm of the game or just through blind luck, you’ll be rewarded by unlocking more abilities, scoring bonuses, and other nifty features.
Race The Sun represents an awesome effort by Flippfly. It’s the kind of game you can learn quickly, but never master. It throws you right into the thick of the action with no apologies or preparation. You will die, frequently and violently. It’s OK. Try it again.
I was so impressed by the world Flippfly has created I wanted to be able to savor it a little more.. Unfortunately, that’s not possible aside from the screen shots I captured. This game has no patience or mercy for dawdlers. On the upside, if you don’t like the terrain that’s whizzing by at the moment just blink and it’ll be different. Or you’ll be a smudge. Either way, be careful what you wish for.
Two of the things I like about Race The Sun (aside from the visual and aural experience) is that, being browser-based, it took less time for the essentials to download than it took for me to visit my Steam library to see how long it would be before I could play. Nice. Another great thing about the game is that you can pick it up and (maybe reluctantly) put it down to attend to more pressing matters. The game will still be there, and you’ll be starting from the first region always so go ahead, do grownup stuff like working if you must. It is, in most respects, a casual game, yet you’ll want to revisit it repeatedly, just to see a little more before you crash and burn.
Some little gripes about the game, and these are minor quibbles based on personal preference- the leader board is just unnecessary. I get that somewhere there’s a preteen analog to Anakin and Luke all rolled up into one, I understand that intuitively. Still, I can’t say it’s a fault in the game’s design, I just don’t look at the top left of the screen after I die. Problem solved.
Another is that damn sun. Although everything is telling me I’m traveling toward it, it’s still dropping like a slo-mo stone toward the horizon. Geez, Flippfly, give us geriatrics a break.
All in all, Race The Sun has a lot of refreshing elements in its repertoire. It’s a simple, sensuously pleasing title that beckons to you invitingly without asking for a wedding ring. Its singular atmosphere is complemented by lightning-fast action. It challenges you to make split-second decisions and renders them seamlessly. It drives you relentlessly forward to meet your fate.
This is a well-designed title that deserves a place in your collection. Normally $10 on Steam, it’s on sale now (12/27/13) for 25% off. For the price and the replay value, it’s hard to beat Race The Sun.
I’m giving this little gem 8 out of 10.
Reviewed by Malefico
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