Game Info:

Race the Sun
Developed by: Flippfly LLC
Published by: Flippfly LLC
Released: August 19, 2013
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X (reviewed), Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Vita
Genre: Racing
Number of players: 1
Price: $9.99

Race the Sun is a game about racing the sun. What else do you need to know?

Well, by the time you've finished reading this paragraph, you've probably already crashed for the first time. And, oddly enough, you're compelled to go again.

Race the Sun is built around a simple premise – you are flying a solar-powered aircraft, and the sun is setting. How far can you go?

Given the sheer number of obstacles in your way, not too far. Sure, the first region is easy enough to get through – especially once you've played through it enough times to memorize a route. But what about that second region, where things start moving on you? And how about dodging those missiles that come streaking in from above once you hit region four? Sure, they obliterate all the obstacles in your path... but good luck flying blind! And we haven't even talked about Apocalypse mode, either....

In the time you've read this far into the review, I'm sure you would have crashed two or three more times. And yet you're still playing.

Race the Sun

Strong Points: Addictive and compelling gameplay; simple controls; thrilling
Weak Points: Simplistic graphics
Moral Warnings: Your ship explodes when it crashes

The graphics are pretty minimalistic. In many ways, it reminds me of the original StarFox game, but much more monochromatic. There are a few other worlds that you can access if you make it through the green “world portals” that are more colorful, but aside from the orange glow of that setting sun – which keeps getting lower and lower in front of you – there isn't much to look at.

Of course, when you're screaming through buildings and mountains at impossible speeds, you don't really have a lot of time to go sightseeing anyway. Sure, there isn't much eye candy, but you're too busy dodging those weird blimp – yes, that thing you just hit. It's called a “puzzled kiwi,” for some reason. Weird.

The controls are delightfully simplistic. Steer left. Steer right. Press a button if you want to use one of those jumps you managed to pick up. That's all there is to it. Of course, that's really all you need. The game responds nicely with keyboard input, but game controllers also are supported. While not needed, I found it easier with my USB controller plugged in. No, there isn't a button you can push to make you do a barrel roll – you'll have to figure out how to do those on your own.

In addition to the jumps, there are other power-ups available, such as “emergency portals,” which teleport you if you do happen to hit something, blue "tris" that increase your score multiplier, or those lovely yellow crystals which have the power to cause the sun to creep back up into the sky a little bit. It's good to memorize where those are located, because you'll need to get as many of those as you can during your umpteenth run.

Race the Sun
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Or until the world resets. I haven't mentioned that yet, have I? Yep, that route that you took time memorizing through the regions? You can forget about it when you load the game tomorrow. Every day it's a new map to try and navigate. This gives the game a constant, refreshing feeling, and no doubt contributes to its addictive nature. Sure, some of the same obstacles and challenges will be present, such as the ramp that leads through the narrow mountain pass, or the maze with the falling posts, but they won't be in the same locations as the day before. They might not even be there at all. 

In any case, you also will be presented with a series of challenges, three at a time, and each one rated in difficulty between one and three dots. Every time you gain four dots, you gain a level. The more levels you gain, the more ship enhancements you unlock. There also are several Steam achievements available, but these are more for bragging rights, rather than anything that affects you in-game. It's just one more incentive to play the game for the hundredth time today.

Although it is a single-player game, there are leaderboards available. You can compare your scores for the day with your friends, as well as other players around the world. You can design levels as well, and submit them to the servers for others to try and play, too. The game includes a level editor, and the completed levels can be submitted to the Steam Workshop, or Flippfly's Web site if you're not playing through Steam. It's also possible that your level will be the one selected when you fly through those green world portals.

The minimalist approach to the game is almost as clever as the graphics. There are no enemies to fight, no bosses to defeat, no in-depth story to get lost in. It's just you, your solar-powered plane, miles and miles of relentless hostile terrain, and the ever-sinking sun. In an odd way, despite the fast-paced nature of the game, it can be oddly relaxing in its simplicity. The music helps with this, and fits the action quite well.

There really isn't too much to be concerned about, in terms of the moral aspects. If you crash – and you will – the ship explodes into a flurry of white sparks. That's about the extent of the violence. 

The price of the game is $9.99, but considering its addictive qualities, it's money well-spent, as you'll play the game over and over and over again. It's easy to have “just one more run” stretch into “I should have gone to bed three hours ago.” When the game goes on sale, it's even more tempting to pick up. In my opinion, this game is a “must have” for anyone who enjoys fast-paced challenges, and its design can appeal to the casual player and the hardcore gamer alike.

What are you waiting for? The sun has to set eventually. Why don't you try and catch it?

About the Author

J. Todd Cumming

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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