Race the Sun Review

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Title: Race the Sun
Developer: Flippfly
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 111 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Among Indie titles, there are a lot of new genres that are being formed.  Some of these genres, we have already done reviews of.  For example,  not too long ago, we reviewed the game Run Like Hell, which is in the Endless Runner genre.  That game was a side-scrolling game where you are endlessly running and gaining power-ups while avoiding traps and enemies.  It was set like Mobile games such as Sonic Dash or Temple Run.  The Vita has a few of this type, and that list is growing.

There are a few variations of this genre, too.  There are Endless Runners, but there are also runners that are called Endless Flyers.  These are games where you fly through the air instead of run.  These also tend to be 3D runners, as opposed to 2D side-scrolling games.  An example of this would be Iron Man 3 on the Mobile platform, but there are also others out there, on the PC platform, like Flippfly’s game, Race the Sun.

Since that game had released on PC, the developer has been working on bringing its high-speed flying action to the console world. As of this past week, it has come to the PlayStation Ecosystem, having released as a Cross-Buy game.  This means that if you buy it, you will get the game for PS Vita, PS3, as well as PS4.  If you’re interested in this high-speed flyer, here is our official review of Race the Sun!

Story

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Is there a story in Race the Sun?  The answer could be yes and could also be no.  For all intents and purposes, the game is purely gameplay-oriented, though there are developer comments given to you as you play through the game.  While this isn’t unfolding a huge plot, there is just a bit of dialogue to the screens when you’re finishing up or just starting a game.

If there is a plot to the game, it’s that you’re racing towards a goal before the Sun goes down.  The game has you in a solar-powered aircraft, racing to go as far as you can before the sun goes down.  Though there really is not deep plot to the game.  For the most part, it is gameplay-oriented.

Gameplay

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As its most basic form, Race the Sun is an endless runner, or more commonly called an Endless Flyer.  When you play through the game, you will be flying through large, 3D areas, endlessly flying until you either run out of fuel or crash into a wall or object.  This is very much like a normal endless runner, though the environments are on a much larger scale.

When you play the game, you will have a choice of what Game Mode to play.  As you begin the game, you will only have two game modes to experience.  As you play, though, you will unlock the other modes.  The game modes are Race the Sun, Apocalypse, Labyrinth, and Credits.  Race the Sun and Apocalypse are the normal game modes where you are going through regions and trying to get as far as you can without crashing.  These both have the same rules, whereas Labyrinth does not.

In Race the Sun and Apocalypse, you are in an aircraft shooting through a large landscape like a rocket, aiming to get as far as you can before the sun goes down.  The biggest unique point about Race the Sun is within the name.  The Sun is in front of you, slowly moving down towards the horizon.  Your ship is Solar-Powered, so the moment the Sun sets, you will lose power and crash. Your goal is to get as far as you can and keep the Sun from setting for as long as possible.  This is possible through Power-Ups and other items you find in these vast environments.

Each environment is huge and is not just a straight line.  While you are always moving straight, there are many ways to move within the game.  You can infinitely move to the left and the right to go to different sections of the same area.  The area to the left, for example, won’t have the same obstacles as the middle section where you originally start.

There are also regions set in the game.  Each region gets a little harder as you progress through it, and each region will have its own effect that will keep you on your toes.  One will have falling objects.  Others can have missiles being fired.  Others could have sliding and moving objects in tight corners.  These also never stay the same.  Every 24 hours, the world resets, creating an entirely different world than you remember from the day before.  While you can remember and memorize the layouts while progressing one day, everything will be different the next day.

As you progress, there will be items for you to find.  These come in the form of a crystal known as a “Tri” and others.  Tri is an item that will enable you to increase your score multiplier, leading to higher scores the further you travel in the game.  The other Power-Ups include Jumps, Shields, and Energy.  Jumps will let you store a power-up and let your ship jump.  Shields will create a portal when you crash to give you a second chance without starting over.  Finally, Energy will reverse time, making the sun go higher.  This is key to making your session last as long as possible.

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There are also two other elements you can find.  These two are Gateways known as Warps and Portals.  If you find a Warp, it will teleport you to the end of the region.  This is useful for getting through tricky areas.  If you find a Portal, it will send you to a Portal World known as “The Void”, to traverse that world for the rest of that region.  None of the Power-Ups or Portals are available from the start, but must be unlocked as you play through the game.

Unlocking content is in the form of playing the game and completing Objectives.  Every time you go into the game, you will have three possible objectives to complete.  Each of these objects will give you different amounts of experience that you can do to level up.  This is where the customization and RPG elements come into play.  You can level up to 25 and for every level, you are given something, be it a power-up to appear in the game, new game modes, or Attachments for your ship to hold more items or increase your maneuverability.

Each session of the game is quite short, outside of Labyrinth, which shows more of an overhead view to navigate a massive labyrinth than avoiding objects in regions.  Although each session is short, the gameplay is very fast and intense.  Throwing in the Objectives for leveling up and unlocking more content, the game gets quite addictive.  As I played each session, I was accomplishing a little and there isn’t a lot to the game outside of the simple sessions, but I couldn’t put it down until I’d reached Level 25.  The game’s gameplay is simple, but it proves to be a fun and addicting challenge.

If you give the game a go in one play session, you can achieve unlocking everything in about 3 hours.  This will be just going through the original mode until you unlock it.  Going through Apocalypse Mode and finishing Labyrinth Mode will increase that to around 4-5 hours.  It’s not a long game, but it provides a fun experience for the price tag.

Controls

Controlling the game is very simple, just like the concept of the game.  You don’t have that many controls for the game, and the touch screen of the PS Vita doesn’t add much to the control scheme.  When you play through the game, the touch screen is completely optional and only used when you’re navigating the menus.  It doesn’t do anything in the flying gameplay, be it in Apocalypse or Labyrinth Modes.

The game mostly only has three control features.  You can move your ship to the left or right with the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick, you can pause the game with the Start button, and you can Jump with the X Button.  This is all you have available to you in the game, whereas you also have Circle available in menus to return to a previous menu.  This control scheme is the same on the PlayStation TV.  There aren’t any special controls when you’re on the PSTV over a PS Vita.

Presentation

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As far as the presentation is concerned, Race the Sun is a very colorful and in-depth game.  When you’re playing through the game, you will be encountering a huge world full of mountains, trees, buildings, clouds, and more.  Each region has a specific color scheme to it, along with the shining rays of the sun and the horizon as it changes the lower the sun gets, from a normal blue to a deep red as the Sun is about to set.

On the Vita, the gameplay runs smooth, and the models look very vibrant and colorful.  While there are some jagged edges to be seen on your ship, the environments look near flawless with how quick everything looks.  Whether you’re using this on the PSTV or the PS Vita, the game looks very vibrant and colorful.

The biggest downer about the game’s presentation is how fast it loads.  When you play the game, you will be dealing with some pretty long load times.  When you first boot up the game, expect to be waiting at least 40-50 seconds before you get to the Main Menu.  Along with this, expect to wait at least 10-15 seconds to load each game.  This is loading a game or simply moving from The Void to the normal levels.  They are long enough that cause a substantial annoyance and don’t blend well with the speed-oriented element of the game.

Summary

Race the Sun brings intense flying action onto the PS Vita as well as the other PlayStation systems currently available.  On the downside, the game has very long load times.  If you can look past these, though, it showcases a few hours of fun and addictive gameplay that is constantly changing and will keep you playing until you reach that max level and have everything unlocked.

8/10

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