Race the Sun doesn't look like much from its screenshots. The minimalistic visuals and simple gameplay premise might not grab you at a glance. It's in hurtling down those gray fields, narrowly missing hulking monoliths as your plane's solar fuel gauge steadily drains, the sun slowly falling as the sky turns a foreboding red, that you understand. It's easy to jump in and play Race the Sun, but it's very hard to put it back down again as it tempts you with just one more attempt at its breakneck pace.

Race the Sun doesn't ask players to do much. Just keep the plane from crashing into anything. You don't have to control the height you're flying at. You don't have to fight other ships. You don't even have to control the speed. All you do is steer, grabbing little point pickups along the way; it sounds like the sort of experience that wouldn't keep the player all that engaged, but it holds your attention with ludicrous speeds and great danger.

Race the Sun's dangerous speed is what will keep many players at the controls. The ship smoothly rushes down the fields as deadly geometric shapes whip by, often with only a tiny window to slip your ship through. At times it can feel like threading a needle, only doing so at fighter jet speeds. It's incredibly dangerous, and even the slightest miscalculation of distances or space will result in a game-ending crash. It's up to you to make the split-second decisions and minor adjustments in aim if you want to live for long.

The tracks are expansive, giving the player options on how to approach their flight. It's not a single straight line with a specific path, but rather a wide-open area filled with varied obstacles. If you don't like what you see coming toward you, you can push hard to the left or right and see if there are easier paths nearby. You don't have much time to decide due to your flight speed, but if you pay attention, you can often sneak away from a route that looks particularly nasty and head toward something a little simpler (or vice versa). This gives you a lot of variety in how you choose to approach a race, keeping the track fresh as your skills improve.

Collectibles litter the track to encourage players to try more risky maneuvers. Blue triangles give you more points, if you're interested in climbing the leaderboards and challenging yourself. Green objects will let you jump, which can be handy when you've chosen a route that's a little too hard for you and you need to escape. Both of those are optional and useful in their own way, but it's the yellow items that you'll have to grab, as these keep the sun from falling.

You could be the best pilot ever, but unless you can keep the sun from coming down you will lose - the ship is solar powered, so once it's dark you're done. The sun falls as you play, and it carries consequences the further down it gets. This is because it creates shadows from the objects you're whizzing by, and every moment you're in the shadows drains your power. Even if the sun is still up, spending too much time in the shadows will shut your ship down as well. Your only hope is to collect the yellow items on the track which force the sun back up into the sky; no matter what, you'll have to take some dangerous paths to keep that sun high above you.

The tracks themselves change daily, so players cannot get overly used to any one route. Practice will help players develop their dodging skills, but the developer still aims to keep them trying new things with these daily track changes. There is also a track editor where players can make their own races, and these can be accessed by other gamers using warps on the main tracks. This puts an almost endless variety into the game as players create new, devious runs to be accessed by others, and all while the developers themselves provide a newly-generated track daily.

Even if one track seems to be enough for you (and they're very extensive, unending things), there are multiple unlockables that change how the game plays. You can unlock a magnet that lets you grab items more easily, the ability to grab more than one jump pickup at once, or even whole other modes by doing well while racing. The game gives the player short goals like building up a certain score or surviving a number of rounds untouched, and doing so rewards you with new additions to your ship or the game. As such it's always shifting and improving, even if you're only puttering away at one track.

The rush of the game and the ease of replay is what makes it hard to put down. Flying fast just feels very good, and the exhilaration of narrowly dodging these huge objects, along with the almost physical sense of impact when you hammer into something, will likely make you want to keep playing. A replay is only a button press away, dumping you right back into the action in seconds, keeping up the pace. You'll want to get back to flying without extended breaks. You'll want to correct that minor turn you didn't quite make in time. It's just so fast and simple that it's very hard to want to stop.

Conclusion

You may find the sun falling in the real world, the hours ticking away as you play Race the Sun. The gameplay is simplicity itself, but failure is still only a tiny mistake away. That feeling of flying down the track and watching objects only just missing your wings will keep drawing you back. Again, the visuals may look a little plain, but that's just to make it easier for the player to assess what's rushing toward them. Race the Sun is a futile flight against a falling sun, but with all of its little extras, different tracks and a sense of speed you can almost feel, it's flight we willingly keep taking on.