Vanishing point racing games were a big part of my early gaming years with titles such as Pole Position and Super Hang On taking up a lot of my time. While not necessarily a realistic representation of driving (or riding) they made up for it by providing a sensation of speed and competition that that undeniably helped get the point across. 2018’s Horizon Chase Turbo by developer Aquiris Game Studio takes its inspiration from this sub genre but combines it with a modern coat of paint that creates a very slick package. It also doesn’t stray too far from the fundamentals of what made these games fun which makes it an easy one to pick up and play.
Controls are pretty simple with the left stick for steering, triggers for acceleration and a button for the nitro. Being a vanishing point racer your car is going to be pulled along the track’s turns but to handle them well you need to time when you steer while judging how fast you can go into the corner and if you need to slow down. Dodging cars and roadside obstacles is also necessary to keep your speed up and win races. To add further challenge there’s coins to collect on tracks that help to unlock more content and fuel consumption to consider which forces you to collect enough fuel cans during the race to keep your car running.
Visually the game is full of bold colours and almost cartoon-like cars and landscapes. The backgrounds are dominated by a location specific horizon and roadside objects adopt a similar look which makes for a decent amount of variety in the scenery. I really do like the choice of art style which I think works even better in its expansions (see below). The landscape moves at a fair rate and the smoothness of it in motion really helps when you are having to react quickly to changing turns. At times I feel like I’m merely responding to the turn signs wizzing past and not much whole lot else… rest assured that’s not my driving method when on real roads! One minor gripe I have is how distant objects appear on the horizon – they kind of “grow” to fit their dimensions and sometimes it doesn’t seem to fit with the distance or other objects that are also approaching the player. I suppose it might be a way to counter object pop in, something a lot of racers of this sub genre had to deal with, but I wonder if the objects fading in would have worked better.
It’s worth noting that DLC for the game continue to give off the classic arcade feels. The Summer Vibes expansion clearly draws from Outrun in inspiration even if the game can’t technically duplicate the experience with its stage progression which is a shame… I really liked Outrun 2, etc on Xbox. The Senna Forever expansion is really impressive too for not only giving Brazil’s most famous Formula One driver a campaign but the graphical switch to F1 cars suddenly takes the game into the territory of other titles like Continental Circus and Final Lap. All of it helps make Horizon Chase Turbo feel like a little history lesson of games past.
There’s a lot of races in the World Tour campaign with additional modes unlocking as you progress so there’s plenty to keep players occupied and achievements to earn. And with support for split screen co-op for up to four people I can see this being an easy choice for a group of people wanting a bit of retro styled racing fun on their modern systems. it looks good, plays well and is clean, simple fun. 🙂
Horizon Chase Turbo is out now for PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch. Played on an Xbox Series X.