I swung by the Indie MegaBooth at PAX Prime 2015 to get an update on Distance, a Kickstarter funded racing game that combines a dark futuristic graphical style with only a loose adherence to physics. The controls on a PlayStation 4 resemble the standard layout for a racing game with one notable addition in the jump button, allowing the car to bounce up at an instant’s notice to avoid deadly barriers and rolling obstacles along the looping and often gravity defying tracks. With a little practice, the jump can be also used to hop between track panels when a tight turn insufficient to avoid the endless abyss below…!
The bright neon glow mixed with dark cubic backgrounds and a transparent track is probably the closest we will ever come to a proper TRON racing game. My session had a calming effect: amid a cacophony of blaring booth displays and enormous crowds, the ease with which I slipped between buzzing orange chainsaws and glided around spiraling tracks were oddly but compellingly cathartic.
Distance feels like a more approachable version of Wipeout in difficulty and gameplay, offering an appealing blend of stylish neo-future graphics and a satisfyingly smooth driving experience. It’s scheduled to arrive on Steam Early Access by the end of the year and if the television, arcade cabinet and Oculus Rift input options are any indication, the team at Refract Studios have an ambitious approach to the future of console racing.