Dusk Racer – Car racing done right

dusk racer iconCar racing on a mobile phone never feels right. Luckily for everyone, Dusk Racer: Super Car Racing is the exception which proves the rule. This is a 2D arcade driving game developed by KeyGames Network, and available for both Android and iOS-powered devices for free.

Available on iTunesAvailable on Google PlayIn it, the player takes control of a sports car and has to drive it through three lanes of heavy traffic, avoid getting hit, grab as much power-ups along the way as possible and, in the end, survive the drive for as long as possible.

Innovative controls

Racing games on mobile devices are, in a way, similar to FPS games – no one never really got the hang of the controls on a touchscreen. However, Dusk Racer just might set an example for all future driving games on how to properly set up the controls.

For movement, the car is completely automated. This means it goes for the maximum speed as soon as the game starts and just stays that way. No acceleration, no switching of gears, and most importantly – no brakes. But I will get to that point later.  So with accelerating and slowing down out of the way, there’s just enough room for steering, and that’s where the game excels.

The game presents the player with a “virtual” steering wheel on the bottom of the screen with a red dot on it, showing when the wheel is in the front position. By sliding your finger in a half-circular motion (not a straight line across the device, but with a little curve), the player can steer the wheel and switch lanes.

Decent looks

This concept feels incredibly natural, and it’s probably the best single feature in the game.

The game itself has a birds-eye perspective and it looks decent. It has a few different roads for both daytime and night-time driving (headlights are turned on during the night, which is a really neat little effect), a couple of weather effects (rain, snow), and a bunch of cars, buses and trucks to get in your way.

The collectable power-ups include a speed boost, an instant repair for when you smack against someone in the traffic, and a bag of money.

That’s not the only way a person can earn cash in this game.  As the player drives through the game, he can collect money using the bags spawned around the lanes, or he can drive risky. The game rewards players who drive very close to a car in the other lane by giving them extra cash for taking the risk. And the more close calls you chain, the bigger the multiplier for the money gets. The multiplier goes up to six times, and gives more skilled players a competitive edge.

Deceleration issues

But why would you need a bag of money, one might ask?  The game has an integrated shop where players can go to buy different car models. Each car has its own advantages and disadvantages, and they are divided into three elements: handling, acceleration and top speed.

Here’s where it gets funny: Why would you need acceleration, if the game accelerates for you?  Handling and top speed make sense – the faster you’re going, the more money you’re making and reaching the checkpoints faster.  The better the handling, the easier it is to grab those multipliers and avoid crashing your car into a back of a four axle truck.

But acceleration seems to have no sense if you can’t decelerate.  And that’s the biggest issue I found with this game. Sometimes cars spawn in two lanes in such a manner that it’s impossible to squeeze between them, and if you made that wrong turn, you’re crashing your car, and it’s game over, pal. And sometimes you just don’t see that the lane is blocked until it’s too late, and that is such a shame.

Old ideas, new twists

I’d love to see a way for the player to control the speed of the car. Perhaps use the system seen in Sky Attack, where the player moves as long as he keeps his finger pressed against the touchscreen?

Edit: After the review was published, we got our attention drawn towards the fact that there is a way to decelerate. It’s not a classic brake pedal/button thing, but rather a trick in which the player must drift heavily to one side of the street or the other, and the car slows down. 

Still, I’d much rather see a classic brake in the game.

The game blends nicely with social media, having dedicated buttons for Facebook and Twitter, allowing for some easy and fast sharing. However, as with a lot of other games, Dusk Racer can only post a message with a link to the Google Play Store or iTunes respectively.  I’d love to see people notified whenever I get a better high score than them, or when I cross more checkpoints.

All things considered, Dusk Racer is a light, fun game with solid graphics and great controls. It builds on games like Crazy Taxi and implements them into the mobile platform with great quality. With a bit more depth in controls, and better social integration, it could be the perfect racing game for mobile devices.

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