I bought Horizon Chase after a glowing review by Touch Arcade. I’ve been looking for an arcade racer for awhile and tried various other racers including the Asphalt series. I never got into other the other games I tried. I’ll disclose that I’ve also never got into racing simulators like Gran Turismo so I admit that realism may be a turnoff for me.
If you are a fan of realism you may be put off by some of the game physics. There are segments of track with sharp turns and there is an effect where it felt like I was riding on rails. While offputting at first, I quickly got used to it.
There are various cups themed by country. Each cup has a couple locales with at least two different tracks. Each cup also has a bonus track in which you can earn car improvements and new cars, depending on where you place.
For the regular tracks, there are a couple of objectives. Overall, you want to earn the best score you can on each track. Your total score across all tracks is used as a gate to unlock bonus tracks and new cups. The score is calculated as a combination of position, track tokens, and remaining fuel. Track tokens are scattered throughout the course for you to pick up as you race. Fuel tanks are also placed thoughout and you must pick them up lest you run out of fuel.
Speaking of the fuel, that’s an interesting mechanic that I haven’t encountered before. You will literally stop in the middle of the track, unable to proceed if you run out of fuel. It adds another source of conflict other than the standard one of winning the race. It also changes the way you race, requiring that you take corners you wouldn’t normally take, for example.
While you always want to maximize your score, there are sub objectives which you may complete in order to unlock bonuses. For example, completing each of the tracks in first place and first place with all track tokens will unlock the classic soundtrack, a special car you’ll recognize, and a retro mode which pixelated everything (honestly this mode gives me a headache).
Another game mechanic that I haven’t seen before is that cars will cut you off from passing them. You will be about to overtake someone and they will veer right into your path. This is the most frustrating aspect of the game, and you have to get really good at ducking and weaving through traffic.
My favorite part of Horizon Chase was the amount of variety and possible accomplishments. Not only are there different tracks but the number of laps for each varies. There is even a very long track with a single lap. The addition of the fuel mechanic makes choosing the right car matter. I suspect the AI driven cars cheat a bit when it comes to acceleration. I noticed when I started out that I accelerated much more slowly than my opponents. This changed as I began to earn upgrades.
Having completed the game and all of the objectives, I’d definitely recommend it to fans of other arcade style racers. Although the game lacks realism, it is a blast to play and has a replay value.