Preview: Race the Sun Beta Impressions

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Talk about coming out of nowhere. Up until last week, I’d never even heard of the Kickstarter-funded Race the Sun. Now, after a few days tooling around at the controls of a solar-powered aircraft in the game’s beta, I don’t want to stop playing.

Race the Sun is a fresh take on the endless runner/racer genre. Think Jetpack Joyride, minus the jetpack and minus the side-scrolling style, in favor of full-on, behind-the-aircraft 3D gameplay. The two games couldn’t look any different, but the endless hunt for the high score mentality is exactly the same.

The objective is the same as any other endless-type game: to guide your sun-fueled ship along an obstacle course of abstract, minimalistic level geometry for as long as you can without crashing or running out of sun juice (going through tunnels or staying in shadows for too long drains the ship’s solar charge). The farther the distance you travel, the higher your score.

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Nabbing special pick-ups called Tris as you fly by increases the score multiplier for every five collected. The trick becomes knowing when to take a risk and when to play it safe. That glowy, blue Tri stuck over there between the two blocks desperately teases you to grab it, but if your strafe timing is off—smash!–you’re a goner. Clipping objects with a wing won’t cause a game over, but will send that high multiplier crashing and burning to lower levels.

Completing different challenges (pick up a certain number of Tris, complete 4 regions in one run, reach a multiplier of 15, etc) over multiple runs slowly builds your player level. With each level comes some form of unlock, whether it’s a power-up or a ship upgrade or a new game feature. Thus far I’ve gained access to two power-ups – a jump ability that shoots the ship higher off the ground to fly above all hazards for a short time as well as a turbo boost daylight extender – and a magnet ability that attracts pick-ups to the plane from a distance.

What’s really neat about Race the Sun is its a-new-world-every-day setup. Every 24 hours a new procedurally generated racing level is created for players to race on. For that day, players can try as many runs as they want, and attempt to soar into the top 10 on the leaderboards. After 24 hours, the scores reset and a new world becomes available. Eventually you will also unlock an asynchronous co-op relay mode in which one player starts the race and then posts their leg to a web page or emails their score to another player to continue from. Once four players have each completed a leg, the cumulative score is tallied and posted to a team high score leaderboard. I’m not quite sure if this feature is active yet, though, as no team scores appear when I check the leaderboard. That or the beta community isn’t socially engaged.

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Another key component to the game will be the Simplex World Creator, a game editor that allows creative-minded players to customize the layout of their own endless racing worlds and then share them with others. I’m personally not into game modding and level editors, but from what I’ve dabbled with the editor makes it fairly simple to populate a map with objects and dynamic events without any coding knowledge. But again, like the relay mode, either the beta community isn’t very active, the World Creator’s sharing function isn’t fully operational yet, or I am completely missing something, because I can’t find any user maps in the menu other than a couple test samples from the developer.

Race the Sun is on target for a PC/Mac/Linux release later in the summer and is currently up for voting on Steam Greenlight. The beta contains only a small slice of the game and a limited player base, but already the game’s daily challenge format and exhilarating daredevil spirit have me completely hooked. Something about darting through tight corridors, weaving in and out of simple geometric shapes and narrowly avoiding collapsing walls with only a single life just gets the adrenaline pumping.

Obviously an active community that embraces the World Creator and relay social interaction features will be crucial to the game’s long-term viability. However, even in its current beta state, Race the Sun is an addictive and deceptively challenging high score hunt that will suck you in for just one more run, over and over again, until the minutes turn into hours and the hours fly by until the next world is created. Flippfly is on to something pretty special here, folks.

Want to take the game for a ride yourself? Check this out to learn how to enter for a beta key!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!