I tried a few more games I got from my indie splurging experience this steam winter sale.
OPUS: The Day We Found Earth
A great little game with the simple mechanic of looking at stars. I finished it in under two hours, but it's an excellent story for that time frame. 9/10 would search for earth again.
I only played 20 minutes, and I'm not that impressed. It has an interesting atmosphere - for a horror/dream-state setting, which I suppose this game is, but I'm just not a fan. The word I would describe the atmosphere is "empty". I knew generally what it was going in, but I guess I enjoyed looking at the reviews than actually playing it. I completed several of the intro puzzles, but it just seemed really boring to me. On the last puzzle I encountered, I didn't have any real motivation to figure it out after dying several times. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, odds are I'll pick it up again later.
This game is so weird. I grew up on racing games, racing was my intro to video games. My Dad got Test Drive 4 when it first came out on windows 98, and I was hooked. I probably still have 20 odd racing games on cd from the pre Windows XP era. When I got a PS3, I basically did nothing but Gran Turismo 5. I did repeated 4-6 hour races on the Nurburgring (usually in one stretch), that's how much into racing I was in. Since finding my passion for space games, I've lost my touch in GT5, although I could probably still put some decent laps down.
So when I started playing this game, having to follow a line instead of a road or track was just super weird to me. What was even weirder was the ability to leave the line and be rewarded with a legitimate lap time. Even Dirt 3 had roads, but this was something else. Generally speaking, shortcuts simply aren't a thing except in a few select arcade games.
That said the game is designed around short, ~30 second tracks. As such, you are racing against the clock and ghosts. You race in ships in the general style of WipeOut, only with a low-poly aesthetic.
One thing that I found frustrating were the loose hit boxes on the obstacles and the ship. They were simply too large. As a result of my racing experience, I tend to take every single centimeter of ground I can take on a corner, and have gotten *pretty* good at doing so. (which is one reason people don't like my driving: I take a corner and they're like THAT'S TOO CLOSE TO THE CURB WHAT ARE YOU DOING and I'm like whaaaat? I've gotten better, but still sometimes an issue. I still try to hit the apex of every freeway turn. :P). Because of this, I make a lot of judgment calls that visually I should have cleared, but still end up hitting stuff (and slowing down).
Another lesson I had to unlearn from my countless hours playing the WipeOut series was the effect of momentum. Basically, this game has none. Turning is relatively instant with no 'drifting', which was a feature in WipeOut. This was disconcerting to me, and I ended up at first taking corners to tight. Right now I'm over compensating, and taking corners too wide.
Other than those differences, I found the game pretty good for what it is. A main feature of this game is that the tracks are procedurally generated. This leads to a "Track of the Day", which racers can compete on for that day. After a few tries I got in the top 20.
Due to the races being so short, the differences in time between first and twentieth place is usually about a second. The short races lend itself to re-racing the course several times in an effort to get a fraction of a second shaved off. With the bounding box issue, I usually end up hitting something, and that means about a third to a half of a second. So if you're shooting for the top ten or something, it's game over, because there's no way you can make up that time before the race's end. There is an online leader board, and with a little practice, I was able to get to within a second of first place (I believe it was the second mission race, for those interested).
All in all it's a great little racing game, 8/10. Getting the bounding boxes fixed up will bump it up for a nice 9/10.
You can pick this game up along with some others with the Born 2 Race 4 bundle on Bundlestars for 2 bucks:
Playing PolyRace reminded me of a racing dream I had ever since I played an old rally game followed immediately with WipeOut Pure. Basically, long, rally-style races but with WipeOut style ships. I'm totally in for a mod for I:B. Somebody please make this.