I first glimpsed the scorching hot light that is Flippfly’s Race the Sun last year at the tail-end of my Extra Life stream when, one might say, I myself was racing the sun to stay awake for the final few hours of charity-driven gaming. I was playing my Steam copy using an Xbox 360 controller to do the needful, and I found it to be a stylish, engaging experience of piloting an airship to the end of a bunch of regions before the sun sets. That last tidbit is very important considering that the airship is solar-powered, so if the sun sets or if you spend too long in shadows you’ll lose energy and come crashing to a dead halt.
Strangely, if you look over some of my gaming history, it’s evident that I’m a fan of endless runners. Jetpack Joyride and Temple Run 2 are good examples of that genre done well, done with enough addictive hooks to keep me going. Substance over style is the key element here, as an endless runner doesn’t need to have super realistic graphics for it to be enjoyable, but the activities you can do as the main character pushes forward without warning are where the game becomes fun or a chore. I don’t mind picking up gems, so long as picking them up feeds into a side quest or becomes currency for upgrades. It can’t literally just be endless running.
Again, the core gameplay of Race the Sun is pretty straightforward: race the sun until it sets. You control a solar glider that relies on sunlight to keep it powered; in order to survive, you also have to avoid a number of obstacles, such as sentient square blocks, tall pyramids, spinning windmills, and falling towers. Due to the game’s minimalistic art style, it can be hard to tell what some of these shapes are; perhaps they are just shapes in the end, lost in a forest or crumbling cityscape. As your ship rushes forward, you can pick up different booster types (jump, shield) as well as hit warp portals, which zip you right to the end of a region, no questions asked.
For many, endless runners are all about the high score. Strangely, I don’t really care about a number attached to my name listed on a board with similar results in Race the Sun. I prefer going for the side challenges, such as collect three boosters in mid-air in a single run or use the warp portal five times, which help you level up and unlock new abilities and decals for your airship. If you are interested in a high score, you’ll want to collect as many Tris, which are blue-colored pickups, to up your multiplier while also trying to survive running into things. Though some side challenges ask you to do that, which is fine by me.
To back all your quick reflexes, barrel rolls, and boosting ahead is an electronica, drum beat-infused soundtrack that is beyond catchy. You can buy it separately over here. It also builds with your progress, which really hammers home the sense of almost there during the end of the later regions.
I’m not certain about this, but it seems like Race the Sun‘s world is reconstructed after a set period of time (maybe every few days or a week?) so while I have become familiar with the layout of the gray-colored world in these last few sessions, that will all change shortly. Unlike with Tower of Guns, this is a rogue-light that I can really just pick up and play for a bit, though I’m stuck at level 17 currently, with two of the three side challenges available being of the “only turn left for two regions” or “only turn right” ilk, which are difficult to master. Either way, that sun is always setting, and my job is to not see that happen. Happy racing, all.