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Survival racer Distance coming to Early Access this fall

A futuristic car drives on a racetrack lit by neon.

It really can’t be stressed enough how much Distance impressed me when I saw it back at PAX East. The futuristic arcade racer brought back warm memories of games like F-Zero and Delta V, with its stylized cyberpunk world and driving soundtrack.

Soon, however, you won’t have to take my word for it. Refract Studios just announced that Distance will be on Early Access this fall, and released an enticing new trailer to give you a taste of Distance’s taut action and hypnotic art and music.

Oh, right. The portals. I’d forgotten about those. What a crazy game this is. I’m still half-certain I was going in circles on one of those levels thanks to a set of portals.

For all that I sometimes have reservations about Early Access, this is one time I’m pretty thrilled to see a developer put their game up there. After all, the one thing that disappointed me when I saw distance was that Refract were taking a rather leisurely and perfectionist approach to a public release of the game. Given the level of quality and polish I saw at PAX East, it seemed like a further delays were just a way to keep a really cool game out of my hands.

It’s even more impressive when you consider that Refract Studios are a bunch of DigiPen graduates who started making Distance as part of a student project. Now, with the help of a successful Kickstarter, the former students are expanding and improving on their original vision with Distance.

The list of features currently in the game sounds pretty enticing, particularly the multiplayer modes and the level editor.

“The private beta currently features a short single player campaign, as well as additional split-screen and online multiplayer modes such as Sprint, Reverse Tag, Stunt, and Soccer,” a Refract press release said. “It also includes a powerful level editor which is connected to Steam Workshop. As of this week there are 100 user-created levels published on Distance’s Steam Workshop!”

That level editor is going to be a powerful weapon in Distance’s arsenal. Disenfranchised Trackmania fans looking for the next big user-generated thing will probably have cause to rejoice.

I suspect, however, that a lot of those homemade levels will be ball-kickingly hard. Remember, while laser grids and giant buzz saws are fun, they should be combined only sparingly and with utmost care. Monitors tend not to react well to being punched or defenestrated.

You can preorder Distance via the Humble Store, which also gets you a Steam key.