Aquiris Game Studio was on a mission with Horizon Chase [Free]. They wanted to recreate classic racing games like Outrun, Top Gear, Jaguar XJ220, and others from the late-1980s and early-1990s, even getting the Top Gear composer, Barry Leitch, to create the soundtrack for the game. And oh, did they knock it out of the park. They've created a game that spectacularly recreates the feel of the racing games of 25 years ago, while abandoning the annoying aspects of those games, creating this wonderful hybrid that shows that they managed to create their dream game.

This is an arcade-style racing game, with physics that aren't necessarily entirely unrealistic, but definitely feature some canned responses to actions. Hit a wall and you'll spin out. Don't rear-end cars if you want to keep up your speed. You have several turbo boosts per race, must manage fuel, and can pick up tokens that help you unlock future levels. The feel of the cars, the look of the game: it all manages to feel like something I'd have played when I was a kid on my Genesis, but with a 3D low-poly style.

The amount of content in this game is ridiculous. There's nine or so tracks per country, and an exceptional amount of variety in the courses. The progression barriers are such that you'll need to go back and do well on earlier tracks in order to advance further. Thankfully, there are rewards for doing well – finishing third in the bonus races earns you a fleet upgrade, and a new car for finishing first. Get a pro medal on each track in a country and you'll get a new car, too. It could perhaps get a bit tedious over time, but it does keep getting more and more challenging as you play, and hey – the value for what you get is absurd. This could have been a more expensive game and still worth it. There's no in-app purchases at all, either.

The tracks do require you to play close attention to which car you use. There are cars that definitely play better on the straightaway-centric tracks, and handling-plus-acceleration cars will do a lot better on the twisty tracks. Even the distance of tracks plays a role in selection – having a car with better fuel efficiency may help you in a situation where fuel pickups are in tricky spots, or are spaced far apart. You can roll on empty until you stop, and I have managed to hit a fuel pickup in that situation, but it's not an ideal strategy for finishing in first.

4. Iceland Reykjavik Northern Lights

The look of Horizon Chase is absolutely gorgeous. While we're likely to see a revival of the PS1/N64 era low-poly style in the coming years – it's starting with games like OmniBus – this game blends together a low-poly look with high-resolution clarity. And boy did Aquiris manage to pull off this contrasting modern-yet-retro vibe. The visuals are clearly lower-polygon-count models, but it's a great stylistic choice. Plus, the colors used in the game give it this extremely vibrant and saturated look. The fact that it all runs at sixty frames per second helps it feel as good as it looks. Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful iOS games released in recent memory. Play it just because it's gorgeous.

The feel of the racing is fantastic, too. Again, there's a definite old-meets-new contrasting vibe here that somehow works. It definitely manages to feel like an old-school racing game in the way that the courses work, the perspective, and even the physics. But the game being in 3D helps out a lot, because everything has a weight to it. The feel of Horizon Chase is definitely on the arcade-y side instead of the realistic simulation side, but knowing that you're actually bumping another 3D car, and the presumptive weight of everything on the course? That makes everything feel so much better.

3. California San Francisco Sunset

While I wasn't a fan of Top Gear, the soundtrack that the original composer of that and other similar racing games did for this game is a fantastic double-sided trick. Horizon Chase sounds great, creating an atmosphere that recalls the original era of those classic racing games, while also sounding unique: it's a mixture of stripped-down rock styles with synthesizers that sounds old, but fresh. And because it's by the original composer of those tracks, there's that authenticity there. But it's not just about having the name for this game, it really does help add to the vibe that Horizon Chase needed to nail.

Controls-wise, you have left and right steering buttons, a gas pedal, and the nitro boost button. There are a variety of configurations, but the default placement worked best for me. There's the occasional mis-tap issue where you might think you're hitting one direction, and missed the button, but they're pretty par for the course for virtual controls. The lack of braking is something you learn to work with through letting off the accelerator in turns, and letting downforce take over when necessary. The game does support MFi controllers, which is a fantastic addition – and necessary for a game going for that old-school vibe. They aren't a requirement to play the game nor to do well at it, and I wish you could navigate the menu with a controller, but otherwise? Another welcome addition.

Horizon Chase is not just a fun racing game, it's also a template for how other developers need to do retro-inspired games. It's not about making a game exactly as it was, it's about finding a way to recreate the feeling of the old games, while mixing in relevant parts of the advances in modern gaming. Aquiris did that in such a great way, that they made a game that feels great regardless of whatever it's trying to crib from old-school games. Buy this game.

TouchArcade Rating

  • thejbe

    Thanks, will purchase then. Also, Dragon King apparently was out on iOS a few years back but for the life on me I can't find it now. Does anyone know where it's gone? Thanks in advance. X

    • Kamakazie

      Do you mean King of Dragon Pass?

      • thejbe

        Dragon King

  • aaroncantsleep

    Looking forward to playing this with my MFi controller.

    • collider

      I played for a couple days with mine... my thumb is numb from jamming down on the A button! I switched over to on screen controls and as it turns out, they're just as good, maybe even better. I would have been shocked if this got less than 5 stars, I can't think of one thing to complain about.

      • Wizardling

        How do you manage to touch tiny touch left and right controls with rapid accuracy?

  • WaveLightGames

    Nice review ... a good read. I'll have to check this game out soon.

  • serjical

    Iam out of fuel in Dubai.. Anyone else have this bug?

    • Nomad

      Yes! I can't find any fuel on the track!

  • Shkrbby

    This game gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling in your loins like when you first kissed a girl.

  • Derprozess

    This game is 5 star everywhere.. At least by ratings this really is GOTY so far

    • rogel5

      Not everywhere. I for example shall award it a 6. And a Maglor cat.

      • Derprozess

        Where's that cat when you need it lol

  • Arthur Hogemann

    Excellent game. 10/10 would buy again.

  • RHess00

    Woah. 5 stars from Carter is like 8 regular stars. Well deserved though.

  • RossmanBrosGames

    okay, I need to play this game

  • Rip73

    Excellent review that captures the game very well.
    And 100% agree with the five stars (it's like 8 stars from any one else:)).
    It is genuinely a top notch racing game with a huge fun element.
    Easily one of the (if not THE) highlight game of the year so far.

  • Assault_is_eternal

    I bailed on racing games when they got too realistic - give me arcade racing any day. I'm really enjoying this game. The funny thing is that I bought it because it supports MFi controllers, but I've been playing it with the onscreen controllers on my 6+ and it plays wonderfully.

    I hope they make a spin-off game where they add weapons.

  • serjical

    I have finished the game 122% lol unlocked everything i really hope for an expansion. There is actually two cars the opponents have that we haven't got yet. Also you can see Australia after india. I'm really looking forward to an addon or DLC.

  • Shkrbby

    Plea to the devs to make a pure Out Run-esque sequel to this. Then you can take all our monies.

    • Quazonk

      Or just make a sequel period, since this game is a billion percent worthy of one

  • Kiltedsheep

    I've lost my husband to this game. I stupidly bought it for him a few days ago, and now I can barely get him to put the iPad down for long enough to have a conversation with me!

    • Adriel Bruno

      Buy 2 copies of the PC version and you will win your husband back in no time with the multiplayer. XD

  • Edwin Ramirez

    The music is awesome. I surely hope they don't take too long with that Android port.

  • ste86uk

    Great game, although I've used the second car for everything so far and never change and have pro on every level I've completed as I don't continue on until I get pro

  • Ron

    You don't need a pro badge for each track to unlock an area's 2/2 car. Just all gold medals.

    • sickbigbrother

      The man's right. After I read this article I was grateful to the reviewer to show me another way to unlock a new car. So I spent one or two hours to pro every track in California (especially the last one took some time as everything has to be 100 % perfect there to get the pro medal) but the only thing you're getting in the end is a completion screen.

      So if the Author's ever to read the comments maybe you want to correct that. Getting the pro medal for every track is just something like an achievement - A gold metal for every country's track is sufficient to earn an extra car.

  • Wizard of Odyssey

    Great review, great game. I love new games that feel like fresh old games. "It all manages to feel like something I'd have played when I was a kid on my Genesis, but with a 3D low-poly style" is spot on.

    I wish Touch Arcade were this enthusiastic about the old Llamasoft games that had a similar old-new vibe. Without adequate promotion, they sold terribly and Yak is never going back to the App Store.

  • tex32


  • kervation

    I am fairly new to the iOS gaming world and I have been thoroughly impressed by the titles that are available. With that being said, Horizon Chase is simply outstanding in graphics, fluidity, & responsiveness. A beautiful rendition of an arcade classic.

  • nijoos

    Any multiplayer?

    • Archimedes

      I was wondering the same

  • deadjam

    Great game. They've balanced it just right so the first time you play you can handle the car and get a good finish. There's no annoying handling bugs just pure arcade fun and a nod back to the good ol' games of yesteryear.

    It's close to 5 stars but perhaps 4.5

  • coolpepper43

    Your opinion is correct.

  • Deckard74

    I'm loving the old-school vibes flowing from this polygon-fuelled beauty. The soundtrack thunders along at a breakneck speed along with your cars that have a nostalgic scent of Eau De Outrun. I agree with other folk here who are finding the onscreen controls surprisingly instinctive. What's there not to like about this game?!

  • Komodovaran

    This game gets INTENSE in some of the levels with the weather and light effects. The supersonic speed sucks you right in. 10/10 would buy again.

  • Big Papa

    Horizon Chase makes me happy in my pants, no joke!

  • blundman

    This game is 5 star!

  • Wizardling

    How is a game with such awful controls actually winning awards, let alone rave reviews? Virtual touch screen left and right buttons are disastrous for fast paced controls. The only good way to do touch steering is with tilt or making the entire left and right sides of the screen controls.

    This game is unplayable as it stands. No normal person can touch exactly the same parts of a touch screen with high accuracy and speed, while having to watch the rest of the screen's action.

    Don't get me wrong - the art is gorgeous low polygon retro, and it feels a lot of fun in a very cool arcade style. But it is utterly ruined by awful controls.

Horizon Chase - World Tour Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 5