At first glance, Race the Sun doesn’t look like much. The game appears to be another endless runner on iOS, and one which doesn’t feature high-end visuals, or much color at all, giving the game the impression that it’s a low-budget attempt at making money.
But looks can be deceiving.
Race the Sun’s arrival on the iOS App Store follows successful releases on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux, as well as PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita releases. The game has proven itself to a wide variety of audiences, and now it’s looking to get iOS gamers in on the fun.
In Race the Sun, players pilot their hovercraft across a landscape filled with geometrically-shaped obstacles, weaving through them and their shadows, attempting to stay in the sunlight as much as possible. Since your hovercraft is solar-powered, staying in the sunlight is crucial as without it, your hovercraft will quickly power-down and die.
At first, Race the Sun is very challenging. You’ll struggle to learn the different obstacle types, and die a lot as you make mistakes. But these mistakes will all help you learn what to anticipate, as well as providing you with time to complete the game’s challenges that reward player with enhanced stats or new abilities (like the ability to jump) that will ultimately help the player perform better with every run.
Race the Sun’s rather drab visual presentation actually turned out to be a benefit in a way. Like I said initially, Race the Sun isn’t exactly a traditionally pretty game; it’s a conservatively colored adventure that is filled with cubes, triangles, and other shapes, protruding from the gray landscape. And yet the fact that my attention is not drawn to the landscape helped me focus more on the task at hand: surviving.
As much as I loved the endless runner Blades of Brim, I will admit that I died many times because I was distracted by looking at something I didn’t need to. Race the Sun didn’t create this problem because the landscape didn’t beg for my attention. I could focus on what was right in front of me and know that I wasn’t missing anything cool on the sidelines.
Another little thing that I appreciate about Race the Sun is that the controls are touch-based, and not motion-controlled. I can play Race the Sun in public and not worry about looking like a doofus because I’m tilting my iPad in the air in front of my face. On top of that, the controls in Race the Sun are sensitive to where you touch around your hovercraft. The closer to your ship that you touch, the gentler the turn will be. Touch further away from your ship, near the edges of the screen, and your hovercraft will initiate sharper turns. This really adds a great level of control to the game.
One thing that I wasn’t too crazy about was that the level shifts once every 24 hours. So if you find that you’re struggling to get past a particular section in a level, you’re going to have to wait until the next day before the game rotates on to something new. On the bright side, you can attempt to find alternate pathways around where you keep getting stuck, so it’s not too big of a deal as long as you’re willing to adventure around a bit.
Race the Sun is a surprising little racing game that will sink its hook in you for quite some time. Don’t let the visual presentation deter you from this one, trust me (and the game’s popularity on other platforms): Race the Sun is a blast to play with.