Sometimes, you just want to hit the road. Photon Highway takes cues from games like Audiosurf and Temple Run to create a randomized highway through the stars. It’s great for those times you want to sit back and cruise away from life’s problems.
Created by Sirnic, Photon Highway is a moody racing game with a single goal: keep moving forward. What starts as a quiet drift down a starry road turns into a madcap rush through obstacle-filled paths. The game models itself after endless racers and rhythm games, although it is actually possible to reach the end of the road. Players control a car on a lengthy, cylindrical road full of spikes, stop signs, and spinning windmills. A single collision sends you back to the start of the road. The highway changes each time, with procedurally generated hazards and layouts that mean you’ll have to pay attention during your journey.
Photon Highway is a simple idea done very well. Endless racers and runners are a staple of mobile gaming, and plenty show up in the Steam store; what makes Photon Highway work is how focused it is. The player is given points for driving near hazards, which creates a simple but fun risk/reward gameplay. The cylindrical highway means that unexpected obstacles can crop up with even slight adjustments. The player bobs and weaves around the highway, performing a sort of improvised dance. Deep purple space and bright orange suns create an awesome mood that’s reinforced by a synth-laden soundtrack.
When I select indie games to feature, sometimes they have political messages, such as socialist thought experiments or beating up monsters to pay for healthcare. In other cases, they have unique mechanics like a tactics game based on possessing enemies or a platformer where you can’t run. Photon Highway falls into a category I like to call “20 minute games,” for games that you pick up and use to relax before bed or zone out to on a lunch break. This is a perfect “20 minute game” for anyone who wants to test their reflexes or simply forget about a lousy day.