by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
So what’s the goal in Horizon Chase Turbo? You race! You, as the driver, travel the world, unlocking new tracks and new cars, going faster and faster until you have landed first place in every track around the world. There are also tournaments, which offer a set list of tracks and track your score based on what place you came in, and how many coins you collected along the way. The primary mode is “World Tour”, where you journey to certain locales around the world and race a series of tracks. For example, California features Hollywood, Death Valley (as a bonus stage), Sequoia National Park, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each has several tracks within it (except Death Valley), with a set amount of laps, time of day and weather patterns. The weather didn’t really seem to affect much but it was very lovely to see. As you accrue points from winning matches, you unlock new cars, with 31 in total as of now. Each track has a number of points you can attain, from placing first, collecting coins, and from finishing with plenty of fuel.
I haven’t run out of fuel yet, but I’ve come very close, to the point where it was flashing on my screen and my car slowed down. Fortunately, I stopped right on a fuel pickup, which appears on every map in fixed locations, as do the coins (blue in World Tour, purple in the Tournament Mode). If you place first in every race on a stage, you’ll unlock a bonus race, and if you come in first on that one, you’ll unlock the opportunity to upgrade your cars, and what makes it great is the upgrades affect all of your cars! With 31 cars to unlock, it’s wonderful that you don’t have to keep re-running these bonus races because they can be very challenging. When you unlock one of these upgrades, you’ll pick between a few options, like +steering/acceleration, and +nitro, or something to that effect. These can make the game feel incredibly easy, but that’s okay, this is a racing game – it’ll pick up the challenge all on its own with hills, slopes, sharp turns, and Easter Island heads jutting just a little into the road.
The actual gameplay is incredibly simple. You have an accelerate button, a brake button, and your d-pad/stick steer you. You can also activate Nitrous, which gives you a huge speed boost, but you have a limited amount of uses. Some maps offer an extra dose, and you can upgrade your cars to have more of it, but the baseline is 3. Sometimes dust or snow are kicked up into your way, which doesn’t make it impossible to navigate, but at those high speeds, you need to eye the mini-map and be aware of your surroundings. The night-time tracks are hard to see on, but despite that, it’s not punishing. If a car hits you from behind, it pushes you forward like you’re in a bumper car, and even if you go careening off of the map and hit a tree/rock/etc, you aren’t completely out of the race.
That’s what’s enjoyable about this game: It’s fun, but one false move doesn’t punish you and promise a loss. Learning the tracks is not a chore, and the handling of the cars is phenomenal. I found it quite easy to drift around a curve, weave between two cars, dart around another, pop Nitrous and suddenly be in first place out of 20. It’s annoying to always start in last place, even in tournaments (say, you came in first the track before), but if you time your acceleration just right, you get a nice boost in speed to start you off. I also appreciate that the other cars can get knocked into the air, pushed off the road, and are not perfect drivers. They can collide with each other far up the highway, giving you ample time to loop around them and claim their spot.
Dust in the Wind: Great (4/5)
I was sincerely surprised that Horizon Chase Turbo was a mobile game first. The gameplay is smooth, the art and music are absolutely incredible. It has in-house co-op, an absolute wealth of content to unlock, from cars and bonus tracks. You have tournaments to race in, and every single track felt just a little different. This is just wholesome fun with a wonderful soundtrack. This is what arcade games looked like to me from my little kid eyes and it doesn’t make you stress over what parts you’re going to upgrade, changing gears, putting new shocks on every match. You don’t have to farm money to buy million dollar cars. Nope, you just pick a ride and put the pedal to the metal. Honestly, I seldom even use the brakes; brakes slow me down when I need to be going fast. I do sort of wish you could change the cosmetics of your car (color/tint, etc) but that’s not really a dealbreaker. The tracks are challenging within reason, the action is non-stop, and I can see this definitely being amazing fun with friends.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.