Endless runner games have quite a strong representation these days, and a few have certainly enjoyed quite a lot of success. There’s just something about trying to set a new high score, with your skill improving as you go. Flippfly’s Race The Sun takes that to heart and adds it’s own twist on proceeding in what may be one of the better looking games on the PS4, with its minimalist design coming across particularly well.
The core gameplay of Race The Sun is to, well, race the sun until it sets. You control a solar glider that relies on the sunlight to keep it powered up so it doesn’t crash into the ground, but in order to survive you also have to avoid a number of obstacles that come in various shapes and sizes, from clumps of square blocks to pyramids, windmills, and falling towers. Crash into any of those and your run is over, or even get caught in their shadows for too long, depleting your battery, and your run is over if you don’t reach a sunlit area in time.
Obvioulsy, getting as high a score as possible is the main aim of Race The Sun, and collecting the various pick ups is key to this. Multipliers are earned through collecting Tris, which are blue pyramid shaped pick ups that help to increase the score. These go to increasing your multiplier, which goes up every time you hit the Tris collection target.
Then you have the yellow boost pick up that increases speed temporarily, and makes the sun rise up from the horizon a little bit, effectively earning you a little bit more time before sunset. The green jump pick up boosts you into the air so you can glide over obstacles and briefly enjoy just flying without worrying about a thing, while the purple portal pickup is essentially another life, so that if you crash you can continue from the point you failed at with the score intact.
All of the pick ups have a role in pushing for the higher scores, but those aren’t the only things that help. In Race The Sun you have the ability to level up by completing challenges that offer experience, with three of those tasks being present at any one time. This could be as simple as travelling a certain distance to the more difficult of getting three perfect regions in one run. As you gain levels, topping out at level 25, you unlock new attachments for the ship, like a magnet to capture Tris from a small distance, the ability to turn faster, or a larger capacity for jumps. You can also unlock badges to decorate the ship with. The attachments go a long way in increasing score and mastering the stages that you come across.
Each stage is split into regions of ever increasing difficulty, which comes by introducing new challenges you have to deal with. So far I’ve managed to get to region 5 and no further because of how tough Race The Sun becomes. If, however, you find the main mode lacking in challenge, Apocalypse mode starts incredibly difficult and ramps up the challenge from there. Don’t expect to last more than a few seconds the first couple of tries.
The third mode, which is currently exclusive to PlayStation consoles, is Labyrinth. In this mode you don’t race the sun and actually have an end goal that you can reach. As the name implies, you must navigate a maze that has moving walls that can end you instantly. This mode is only available once you hit the level 25 mark though, so it’s something to aim for while playing.
You may think that eventually you’ll just learn a course and just breeze through it, but Flippfly has thought of that. That’s why every 24 hours the game world regenerates with an entirely new layout, so that every day you play you’ll have to work out the course all over again. This applies to all the game modes too, which makes it an even playing field for everyone to compete to be the best in the world for that day. It also means that you can constantly find a fresh challenge, which should keep Race The Sun from getting stale.
In terms of visuals, the minimalist look of the game really works, especially on PS4. The ship and much of the world are different shades of grey and silver, though the sky may change colour depending on the sun’s position or the mode you’re playing. When in the shadows your craft does go black, and if your battery depletes the light on the back of the ship flashes red. The music is also well composed, complimenting the gameplay perfectly as the tracks change from one region to the next.
There’s also cross-save support, which is activated and synced whenever you quit out to the main menu, but you can turn this off if you prefer to keep progress separate between the consoles. The gameplay is naturally identical across the board, but the Vita version doesn’t look as good as the PS4 version, and you wouldn’t really expect it to. In some instances the ship also felt slower than it should have done, as if it was being dragged across the screen instead of flying smoothly.
Overall Race The Sun is a fantastic endless runner style game, a genre which I’m usually not a fan of. It’s incredibly addictive and really taps in to that ‘one more go’ mentality. I really like the visual style of the game and its minimalist graphics and obstacle design come together nicely. The fact the game also manages to feel fresh everyday due to the changing levels is an added bonus, purely because you don’t know what to expect.