I come to you as the saltiest of salamanders right now. Not because I dislike Horizon Chase Turbo — on the contrary, I had an amazing time — but because this game is frustrating in the best, truest tradition of arcade racing titles. It’s a fast-paced, controller-throwing good time that manages to somehow improve upon the classic OutRun formula. This is our Horizon Chase Turbo review.
Reviewed for the Nintendo Switch and available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC via Steam, Horizon Chase Turbo is as simple as it gets from a gameplay standpoint. You simply hop behind the wheel of several unlicensed but very obvious car models and race through several circuits around the world. That’s really about it: mash the gas pedal, steer left or right, collect a few shiny trinkets along the way.
There is one sort of shiny trinket that is pretty integral to your success: fuel canisters. Yes, you do burn through petrol in this racer and you will have to bear in mind which part of the course and which lane fuel cans are to keep your gas tank full, but it’s not as intrusive as it sounds. There’s not a lot of mental gymnastics one has to perform when it comes to this added wrinkle, which is good, because thinking any harder than that would be a detriment to this game’s sense of mindless arcade fun.
On the subject of driving, things here feel incredibly dialed in. The cars all have a sense of substance to them and feel grippy as they whiz around the oddly striped racetracks. Depending on the kind of car you select that sense of grip certainly varies, but even the ones with less handling feel manageable simply by careful use of the throttle or brake. If you want to use the brake, anyway. I sure didn’t.
About the worst things in Horizon Chase Turbo as far as gameplay goes are related to turbo boosts and collision. On the former point, turbo doesn’t feel like it provides any real advantage as all of the nearby cars perceptibly match your speed, while on the latter point hitting other cars or objects in any way scrubs off so much speed that it can get aggravating. However, that collision model also seems somehow appropriate, keeping in tradition with classic arcade racers. Still, losing a race to sheer dumb luck because some randomly generated car got in your way never feels good.
Gameplay modes are plentiful in Horizon Chase Turbo. The meat of the game lies in World Tour, which has you moving from several different locales around the globe competing in a series of races. Performing well is measures by placing high, having a lot of fuel, and collecting as many tokens on the course as possible. This earns you points which help you to simultaneously unlock new locations in the Tour, new cars to race, and Upgrade Races where you can apply a single type of upgrade to every vehicle you’ve unlocked.
If you’re tired of the World Tour, there’s also Tournaments that link a series of four races together into one points-driven tourney format; Playground that features several limited-time races with unique modifiers or win requirements; and Endurance, a grueling long-form tournament of 109 races. Overall, there really isn’t a shortage of things to do.
To top it all off, this game is $20. That is a pretty insanely low price for all of the arcade goodness on offer here, making it arguably one of the best values in gaming overall, let alone indie gaming.
The visual flair, top notch gameplay, and depth of modes all combine to make Horizon Chase Turbo not just a nod to its arcade racing forebears, but a true-blue improvement. It takes some pretty obvious inspiration but also does what it does so well that it stands out. Anyone who is even a casual fan of old-school arcade racers deserves to have this included in their library. This game truly doesn’t disappoint even as it frustrates.