Ah, Horizon Chase. The reminder that racing games work even if you only need the accelerator pedal – and the steering wheel only on an estimated 60 percent of the turn. Martin has loved the series for a long time, primarily because of the driving 90s soundtrack by Barry Leitch (Lotus Turbo Challenge 2, Top Gear), which automatically qualifies every racing game for an award. And now Aquiris is releasing the second part on Apple Arcade.
It’s just like turf 30 years ago, when track edge objects were still two-dimensional sprites that were zoomed in several stages and tracks simulated depth by alternating dark and light gray every three meters. Cult and special, but no less attractive. Mainly because it’s excellently tailored for mobile devices.
The driving experience is therefore more reminiscent of being strapped onto the nose of an ICE at top speed, which depending on your weight shift throws itself into the curve sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right and I really like that in this type of game.
Ok, that’s not all. Now and then you should ignite it, the turbo, let go of the gas to drift – just don’t brake! – and then steer briefly. You rarely get the kink otherwise. Although the cornering does a lot of the work for you, because real physics, or what other racers sell you as such, has no power over you or your car here.
I have to say that as monotonous as it is, it’s always good to dash around the world with this insane feeling of speed, on routes that rarely take longer than two minutes to complete. Actually perfect for in between, which regularly escalates to three or four routes in a row – and then the next of the many, many countries is unlocked, which of course you want to look at “just for a moment”. This works best with the PS4 controller, but the touch control is also exemplary and gets by with just a few control panels.
I made the mistake at first and stayed with the first car I got into. And although I diligently upgraded this Dodge Viper imitation, I was much better served by switching to the Scirocco blend for a third of the long campaign. It’s nice that even in such a simple game there are still such clear differences between the cars.
Visually, the stylized and friendly vibe is once again pleasing, only this time the environments and vehicles are a little more plastic. With every start I feel the strong impulse to snap a screenshot, just as the sun regularly shines into my cold heart. Visually, Horizon Chase 2 stands out a good deal from the sprite scaler racing games of the Amiga era, which may not look quite as nostalgic, but it’s no less pretty. Unfortunately, there were occasional stutters on my iPad Pro 2020, although the frame rate always remained within a playable range.
If you need a change… well, that’s a little out of place here, but I still want to mention the online mode where whoever blinks first loses. Like Solo, there’s a lot of rubberbanding here, but I rarely felt like it decided the game in the last few yards, which is a good thing. There’s also a challenge mode – but at the end of the day, it’s driving both ways in a refreshingly old-fashioned way, while hot keyboard music burns your eyebrows with racing stripes.
This game knew what it wanted. And if you still have an ounce of love for classic racing games, you know you have to have Horizon Chase 2.
Horizon Chase 2 is available as an Apple Arcade subscription at no additional cost and, like all games here, is microtransaction-free.