Race the Sun is another endless runner like title that comes with a fairly cool twist, being that each and every day the game will shift its map layout to provide players with something new to enjoy. The real question however, is whether or not Race the Sun is fun enough to entice players back every new day for that replay value? Sadly not, and it’s a shame really because this game could have much more than what it is. I’m not suggesting that this is a terrible game, but the lack of content or commitment to keep fans engaged is more apparent than almost anything else that the experience has to offer.
Players take control of an aircraft that has no vertical control whatsoever, that is unless you pick up the ability to jump or zoom at high speeds up a ramp. Outside of that all you can do is sway to the right, sway to the left, and barrel roll in both of those directions. The aim of the game is to (as you can guess) race the sun, only you wont be racing it in the terms of actually going head to head against it, instead you’ll be racing toward it and covering as much ground as you can before the sun sets. Flying merely just above the ground, you’re tasked with avoiding heaps of obstacles and obstructions that serve no purpose other than to make you explode. The game is broken down into different regions, however all of these regions take place in a single run.
Your goal is to make it through as many regions as possible before the sun falls out of view, meaning your solar powered aircraft runs out of juice. Littered throughout each region are power-ups that you can obtain that will either extend the amount of time the sun stays in view, give you the aforementioned ability to jump, and more. High speeds and quick reflexes are essential if you want to get the most from the game, and believe me when I say, Race the Sun is about as forgiving as Joffrey Baratheon. It certainly doesn’t help that all of the obtainable items are loosely dotted around each region, and thanks to how fast you’re going at any given time, it’s almost impossible to swerve in the direction of an item and grab it unless it’s already in (or close to) your path.
That means that for the most part, you’re racing the sun with little aid. This wouldn’t be so bad if the speed of the sunset wasn’t much faster than your aircraft, but it is, which results in constant loss of movement at almost the same point in the same region over and over again. Surely it would have been wiser to at least place such important items in locations that you can actually manoeuvre to? No, not in this game. It’s a further hindrance when you see items that have purposely been placed high up in the air or wedged between two high structures and you can’t reach them because you missed out on the jump power-up 30 seconds ago, meaning you have to wait for the game to be generous enough to give you a time-extender which typically doesn’t keep you going for long enough to see or pick up another. It’s almost as if the game wants you to take specific risks in order to grab a consistent trail of useful items instead of allowing you to take your own risks and follow your own path.
You can indeed make the most of what little time you have on any given run by picking up score multiplier gems. Your score is tallied at the end of each run, so if you want to climb in leaderboard rank, you’ll need to keep an eye out and pick up as many of these as you can. On top of the daily changing map layout, which is arguably Race the Sun’s saving grace, this is where you’ll find most of your replay value. I wont deny that the game has a great “one last try” allure to it, even if it’s a fleeting one. There is some level of progression to take on, but even this is substandard at best. It requires you to complete objectives to score XP, which in turn will level you up and reward you with some lacklustre upgrades that make the game that little bit easier.
Challenges can range from tough tasks such as barrel rolling a certain amount of times in a single run, or something ridiculously easy such as collide with an object a handful of times. There’s just no depth involved, and when you take into account that many of these challenges purposely take you away from the core experience, it feels pointless. I was also shocked to see that the most interesting and vibrant map design was locked away as a side mode. Visually, Race the Sun isn’t at all impressive. It’s all mono-like and everything in region 1 looks exactly the same as it does in (say) region 4. It’s grey, it’s bland, and it’s dull. The night mode on the other hand is rich, colourful and very easy on the eyes. Sure, the game isn’t called Race the Moon, but that extra personality went a long way so it’s a shame this wasn’t offered up for the main serving. Group that with some fairly sub-par music, and you’ve a recipe for the bargain bin.
Race the Sun holds hope that players will be repeatedly drawn to try out the new map layouts, day in and day out. I’ve no doubt that this will appeal to some, but for those that enjoy the fuller experience, this game is far from fulfilling. Whilst Race the Sun does have some promising features, much of what’s been implemented falls short at every hurdle. The progression system is tethered to a silly challenge system that rewards you with minor buffs and unlocks that barely do much to keep the game alive. Although the music is not as headache inducing as the gameplay, it could have been better. When all is said and done if you want an endless runner with style and real replay value, stick to any of the freebies you can pick up for mobile.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.