Welcome to part four of the Seven Gaming Heroes series where this week we’re going to be looking at the endless runner for Playstation 4 that is Race the Sun. Equipped with a simple yet memorable and absorbing graphical style and soundtrack, Race the Sun possesses boundless replayability as each run of it, skill depending, can last anywhere from ten seconds to ten minutes. I was among those who purchased it on its release day and before moving onto a different game the stats menu informed me I racked up over 300 runs on it.
The premise is very simple. You take control of a solar powered plane and must constantly stay within the light of the setting Sun. If you remain in the shade of the structures you pass for too long, the battery drains away from the plane and you die. If you collide with any of the structures you pass, you either die or have your score multiplier halved if the collision is a glancing bump rather than a head-on crash. Later stages also introduce hostile ships that fire lasers and missiles at the environment that can also kill you if you get caught up in their attacks.
Each run takes place across stages of escalating difficulty, and there is a score multiplier that tracks your progress and the amount of triangular gems, called ‘tris’, that you collect by flying through them. Every five tris you collect boosts your score multiplier by one which then increases the points you receive for the distance you have travelled. If you manage to clear a stage with your score multiplier intact then you will receive bonus points that are added to your total achieved so far.
Upon each death, as a run can only end in death, your final score is entered onto a daily resetting leaderboard for the mode you have played, so you can see how your progress compares with others around the world on that day. The layout of the stages is also changed at various times every day so the challenge remains varied and you cannot simply rely on memory to excel at the game.
There are four different game modes in Race the Sun. First is the standard ‘Race the Sun’ mode as I’ve described above which is the normal game difficulty; but there is also ‘Apocalypse’ mode where the environment hazards and enemy ships become significantly more aggressive and far harder to avoid. This is one of the rare hard mode difficulties that I actually enjoy, as you can restart within a very short loading time and it doesn’t take many attempts to learn the current layout of the world so you can make more substantial progress each time.
‘Labyrinth’ mode removes enemies but sets the entire level within a labyrinth layout and provides you with a top down camera rather than the one you use in the standard and Apocalypse modes. This is a change that provides a whole new level of challenge in and of itself, before you learn that some of the walls will suddenly move as you approach, so you will need the quickest reflexes to stay alive in this mode. Finally, there is the relaxing ‘Sunrise’ mode, which by far has the prettiest setting, and removes threat altogether except for the occasional static wall that is very easy to avoid.
Different unlockable upgrades for your ship are made available as you complete various challenges the game sets for you whilst racing the sun. You have to choose which three upgrades of a choice of five to equip your ship with that will make certain aspects of a run much easier. These include a better battery that allows your plane to last longer in the shade, the ability to turn your plane on a sharper axis and other such options that are all equally helpful and provide a difficult decision as to which of them to equip.
Each of Race the Sun’s modes can also be played in first person mode if that is your preference, and if you have a stomach of steel (which I don’t) the game is also VR compatible.
Thank you for reading part four of my Seven Gaming Heroes. Race the Sun was a free Playstation Plus game in May 2015 so it is likely a number of people already have access to it without knowing they do or needing to spend a penny. If you are among these people who have not experienced this yet then you owe it to yourself to download it and give it a try. If you have played it before then let me know how you found it in the comments or on Twitter @MaliceVER and I will be back next week for part five where we will be looking at one of the most addictive competitive arcade games of this generation, Rocket League, and so I will speak to you then.