Distance is an arcade racer that remembers games are just suppose to be fun

Posted on October 3, 2018

Developed by Refract, Distance is a newly released arcade racer that combines aspects of traditional arcade racing with some extra parkour elements. The game puts control in the player’s hands as they drive through a vibrant, neon world. At its heart, Distance understands that games are suppose to be fun, and gives players the tools they need to experience a frenetic and exciting racing experience.

Originally launching onto Steam’s Early Access service back in late 2014, Distance has finally seen its full release and its quite the package. The game clearly utilised its Early Access phase extensively because it comes with a range of game modes including a full campaign, various arcade modes that test your abilities, online and split-screen multiplayer, a garage for customising your cars, and a complete level editor. The game’s campaign is short and sweet, as the player embarks on a dark and ominous journey that also slowly introduces the game’s mechanics and helps you master your driving prowess. The campaign was a cool inclusion but it mostly prepared you for the real heart of the game, which is its multiplayer racing.

Distance certainly isn’t angling for that realistic racing vibe. You will take a corner with next to no drift and the handling is almost uncomfortably accurate. Not to mention your car will be leaping, flipping upside down, riding walls and flying through the air. Distance is a fun racer and races can be more akin to obstacle courses than to traditional laps. The game definitely has a Trackmania vibe to it where failure is expected and part of becoming the best is simply learning the tracks and achieving a perfect run. I for one found it hard enough to even finish a track a lot of the time, let alone achieving the perfect run. But a lot of the fun in titles like Distance is pushing yourself and impressing yourself when you manage to pull off that flawless 180 spin into an upside down wall ride followed by a perfect glide under a swinging saw blade.

Games like this will live and die by their community and I have no reason to believe Distance will lose its dedicated and active fan base any time soon. The game’s level editor is slightly on the complicated side but its effective in allowing its dedicated users to create truly impressive tracks. No matter how much time you put into a game like this you will still never see everything because with community run servers and community created content there’s an endless stream of enjoyment to be had. The slight downside here is that the fans who are dedicated enough to be making tracks are also seemingly very good at the game and therefore are making difficult tracks. I found myself stumped frequently as a newcomer who wanted to see what the community was able to create. However this certainly isn’t a knock against the game because there are a huge array of tracks already available that slowly increase in complexity for the player to jump in to.

It’s hard to criticise a game like Distance because it knew what it wanted to be and executed on that vision very well. The neon-future vibe of the game’s aesthetic is visually compelling and allows for very readable tracks with bright neons cutting through the black and paving the way. Your boost meter and other important information is displayed on the car itself which further adds to the game’s cool aesthetic. Although the coolest part of the experience for me was discovering you could slice your car in half by running into a saw blade and continue forward. I’m not suggesting this as a tactical option, but it was undoubtedly fun to witness.

Distance is available on Steam now for anybody who wants to jump into the crazy and frenetic, arcade racing mayhem.