Distance
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Distance spent a long time in Early Access, but this has resulted in an addictive arcade racer that is as polished as it is entertaining. The game not only features a unique racing meets platformer style, but it is also brimming with content. With three short campaigns, an arcade section with multiple tracks and modes, multiplayer and even track editor with Steam Workshop integration means you’ll be coming back to this one again and again. It also features something that we wish more games would do in the form of actual in-game rewards for obtaining certain Steam Achievements. If you are a fan of arcade racers, then this one is not to be missed.

Gameplay: Extremely addictive and the game feature a ton of content to keep you busy.

Graphics: Stylish and sleek along with plenty of visual variety.

Sound: The soundtrack as well as sound effects are top notch

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Distance

Developer: Refract | Publisher: Refract | Release Date: 2018 | Genre: Action / Racing / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Purchasing an Early Access game on Steam is always a bit of a gamble, because for every good game that emerge from it, there are scores of others that are abandoned or simple marked as complete even if they are not. Distance first popped up in 2012 on the new defunct Steam Greenlight pages, before emerging on Steam Early access in late 2015. It wasn’t until three years later in late 2018 that the game left Early Access, which is long enough that some players grew concerned about the fate of the game. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to discover that not only did Refract use all this time productively to polish their game, but they have also produced one of the most exciting arcade racing games that we have played in years.

Distance initially enticed us with its neon drenched visuals and winding tracks, but after starting the campaign mode, we were in for a bit of a shock. Instead of neon drenched cities, we were thrown into a nail-biting race against a deadly infection that is slowly destroying an orbital array. The futuristic environments quickly gave way to more oppressive ones, which gave the game an unexpected horror vibe. Think Tron meets Dead Space and you might have an idea of what we are talking about. Of course, the single player narrative experience is only a small portion of the game and while it is quite short, it is very intense. Completing the main campaign unlocks another, shorter one, that is based on Nitronic Rush, the game to which Distance is a spiritual successor. Completing this campaign unlocks another short one about getting past security protocols in an effort to deliver an important package. The three campaigns won’t keep players busy for too long, but they slowly increase in challenge and are a ton of fun.

The next stop after the campaigns is the “Arcade” mode where players have access to more than 100 tracks. These tracks feature more unique environments and crazy layouts compared to the main campaigns. Completing the tracks earns players bronze, silver, gold and diamond medals, which unlock further tracks. Then there is the “Trackmogrify” feature, which basically uses seed modifiers to generate random tracks. Not all of the random tracks are that fun, obviously, but we encountered a couple of really good ones and this feature alone gives the game almost unlimited replay value. Distance even boasts a powerful level editor, complete with Steam Workshop integration for players in search of even more levels. The level editor can be a little daunting at first, but after a few tutorials it becomes clear just how much freedom it offers to create truly unique levels. The tracks that have already been created range from the mundane to the truly astounding and, thanks to the amount of time the game spent in Early Access, there are already thousands to choose from. Playing all these tracks are great on your own, but Distance also allows you to take part in four player split screen races locally and online races with up to twelve players. All of this ensures that Distance is one of the arcade racers that offers the most value for money in terms of content.

One of the things that really set Distance apart from other racing games and the reason why it is so unique is the actual driving style it has. Instead of racing around in laps, the races in Distance are all point to point and actually have more in common with a platform game than a racing game. This is also only possible because of how nimble your car is. Not only can it turn on a dime, but it can also come to a stop almost instantly. This is why we recommend starting with the campaign mode, as it slowly introduces you to all the features of your car. The first thing you’ll need to learn is how to boost your car in an efficient manner. Holding down the boost button increases your speed, but it can also overheat the car and cause it to explode if you don’t stop using it in time. Luckily, your car is cooled down by passing through checkpoints, so you need to calculate how long you can safely boost before hitting the next checkpoint. Eventually you will also have to start making jumps and soon you’ll find that your car can also turn its doors into wings and fly on certain levels. The tracks are rarely straightforward and often requires you to drive on the road, the walls, and even upside down depending on how it twists and turns. This means that you’ll have to master the art of jumping, twisting your car around in mid-air, using thrusters to boost it into the nearest drivable flat surface, all without falling off the track and getting destroyed by the kill grid that surrounds each level. It is quite tricky until you get the hang of it, but overall this style of parkour racing is incredibly satisfying when you pull it off successfully.

Distance is also a game that will further test your reflexes using a myriad of obstacles that it places in your way. Various walls can pop up unexpectedly, requiring you to swerve around them. Then there’s the saw blades that can annihilate you and even lasers that can cut your car in half. Surprisingly, it is still possible to drive with what is left of your car if it is cut in half and it will regenerate at the next checkpoint, which is pretty neat. Handling everything from jumping, rotating, boosting and flying with a keyboard is pretty tricky, so we seriously recommend an analog controller for the best experience.

Visually, Distance is a very good looking game and the amount of “themes” that are present in the game are quite astounding. With everything from dark and scary environments to bright, rainbow or neon colors, there’s something here for every taste. Just when we thought that we had seen it all, we also discovered that some of the achievements in the game unlocks “cheats” such as a visual filter that gives everything a cell shaded look. This is the kind of stuff that other, less scrupulous developers would have included in their games as paid DLC, so kudos to Refract for putting their players first. The frame rate for Distance is butter smooth and it also makes features a very minimal HUD during races to keep things immersive. Speaking of immersive, Distance has VR support and playing it with a headset is a whole new experience. It is ten times more atmospheric in VR and instead of feeling like you are playing the game, it actually feels like you are in the game. The default first person mode for VR is immersive, but can be disorienting when performing all the parkour tricks, so we preferred the thirst person camera view that reveals more of the surroundings. It would also be a crime not to mention the brilliant soundtrack by torcht, as it fits the game like a glove. Sound effects are good too, and we loved the creepy emergency announcements that play during the first campaign.

Although Distance is not going to be a game that will appeal to serious racing simulator fans, it blows the rest of the arcade racing competition out of the water in terms of style and content. We would have liked to see more players in the online multiplayer mode, though, as it is genuinely a lot of fun. Some players might also find the campaigns to be a bit too short, but there is a wealth of other tracks of modes in the game to keep things interesting. Overall, we can recommend Distance without any hesitation and it is a shining example of why sometimes some things really are worth the wait.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.3 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT or AMD Radeon HD 3830
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz or AMD FX 4.0 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or AMD Radeon HD 7750
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • OS: OS X 10.7 (Lion)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.3 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce 640M or ATI Radeon HD 3870
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • OS: OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 775M or ATI Radeon HD 5870
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04
  • Processor: Intel Dual-Core 2.3 GHz or AMD Dual-Core Athlon 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT or AMD Radeon HD 3830
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 14.04
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz or AMD FX 4.0 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or AMD Radeon HD 7750
  • Storage: 5 GB available space

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