One of the few racers on Switch that doesn’t involve throwing things at opponents.
The Switch is no stranger to racing games. One might even argue that racing games are one of the Switch’s most thoroughly represented genres. In spite of this, there are still sub-genres of racing not present on Nintendo’s latest console. Near-future arcade rally racer is one of them. VD-dev’s Rise: Race the Future arrives on Switch with fresh gameplay and impressive technical makeup, but will that be enough to elevate it above the crowd of racing games already available?
As a rally racer, Rise is all about carefully managing your speed as you drift around corners. While a realistic rally racing simulator would see you navigating dirt and gravel tracks, Rise leverages its futuristic aethstetic to push the variety of its game design a little further. While the winding dirt roads are certainly still present, Rise places a large emphasis on driving on water, as well as a large variety of other surfaces. I do wish they had pushed the futuristic elements a bit further. Driving on water is a step in the right direction, but it begs the inclusion of more unique driving environments. When you’re driving on water, Rise feels like a unique game, but once you’re back on land it can be hard to spot the futuristic elements. Let me drive on lava, or an entirely different planet with strange gravity. I desperately want to see this idea pushed out further.
Each surface type has its own characteristics, forcing you to quickly adapt your driving throughout each course. Every minor adjustment you make to your speed will have an impact on how you take a corner; this is unfortunately one area where the Switch runs into an unavoidable issue. Unlike the PS4 or Xbox One, the Switch uses digital triggers rather than analogue. This means when you press ZL or ZR the Switch returns a simple binary response: You are either pushing the button or you aren’t. An analogue trigger on the other hand can return a value equal to the amount of pressure you’re putting on it. In terms of racing games on Switch, a digital trigger means you are either not touching the gas or flooring it. To VD-devs credit, the Switch version of Rise does feature an optional auto-breaking system not present in the original PC release. This setting can be adjusted to three different degrees of intensity and helps to manage the player’s speed around corners. While I did ultimately wind up turning it off, I found it very helpful during my early time with Rise.
Gameplay is separated into three modes: time trial, championship, and challenges. Time trial and championship are very straight-forward. Time trial sees you trying to set record times on a track of your choosing, with the option to race against a ghost. Championship is a traditional grand prix, with the next one unlocking if you place in the top three positions. The championships do get more interesting later on with specific themes such as weather or vehicle type. Challenges are where the more unique elements of the experience come out. They are set up as individual races with specific conditions. Completing a condition will earn you tokens that unlock new groups of challenges along with new cars for use in this or any other mode. The conditions of these challenges range from simple objectives like “win the race” to more interesting ones like “never drop below fifty miles per hour.” It is worth noting that all of these modes are single player only. There are no multiplayer options, which is certainly disappointing. There are no online leaderboards either, making Rise a decidedly solo experience. That being said the large number of tracks, cars, and challenges mean that while you’ll have to play alone, you’ll certainly have plenty to do.
Last week we released a video covering the technical elements of Rise in depth. To quickly sum up, Rise is a very technically impressive game. It compares very well with the PC version at maxed out settings. While it isn’t able to hit the sixty frames per second mark like Mario Kart 8 or Fast Racing RMX, I’d still say it is one of the best looking racers on Switch. Whether playing docked or portably, Rise certainly makes a name for itself in this regard. Rise: Race the Future is a fantastic racing game at its core that is held back only by the limits of its own ambition. While it would benefit greatly from a further exploration of its own mechanics and multiplayer functionality, it remains a very fun and technically-solid racer that can more than hold its own against the system’s best.