Star Horizon Review – Like Time Crisis but with spaceships
App Type: Uncategorized
By: Tabasco Interactive
Version #: 1.0.0
Developer: Tabasco Interactive
Price: 3.99User Rating:
It’s not impossible. I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-sixteen back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.
We’ve always dreamed of being there, doing that. Manoeuvring inside that trench and firing the torpedoes at the right time. And up until a few hours ago, there was no game in the whole App Store that took you close enough to the real experience. This has changed with Star Horizon, which is rightly also one of the featured apps of this week.
In Star Horizon you’ll play the role of John, a Federation attack ship pilot who was put to hibernate by his ship’s AI just after a hard-fought battle between the Federation and the rebels… During something like 900 years. When you wake up, the fight is still hot enough to grant a few chapters of dodging and fighting. The bad news about the game start here: there are just ten chapters. And each lasts for like 2 minutes of pretty intense fighting. Okay, maybe they are 5 minutes. It’s hard to tell, but the game is incredibly short. Even though there are several story plots to follow (you’ll be given two options from time to time and will need to chose in 5 seconds what to do), they are not that different one from another. Shoot, dodge, repeat, purchase ship improvements.
Having said that, I don’t regret at all purchasing it. Star Horizon is an impressive game: great visual effects, very good control system, good enough music and effects. The plot is okay-ish, even though it feels too much like a poor mix of several sci-fi plots. At first I felt like a mix of Charlton Heston and Julian Gardna from X2:The Threat. After a while the plot turned thinner, and by the end it was pretty clear the plot was just an excuse to be able to shoot spaceships up. If you don’t believe me, choose the Federation side all through the plot and pay attention to your allegiance.
As for gameplay, Star Horizon is a rail shooter. Very much like the classic Time Crisis, where you could duck and fire but not much more, and all movement around the field was scripted, in Star Horizon at least you have full manoeuvrability within the screen. And the way to control the ship is superbly made: drag your right thumb (or left if you are left-handed and choose so in the options menu) around the screen and the ship will move around. Swipe fast and the ship will roll, evading more easily enemy fire. And of course, while you evade enemy fire and try to kill the enemies, you’ll have to dodge space exhausts, beam lasers and other “architectural” pieces of spaceships.
Targeting is almost automatic, although you can choose the target by moving the ship. Which is equipped with three levels of weapons and upgrades:
- Laser gun: The ship starts with a basic laser gun (LNS Laser Gun S), which is relatively slow to fire and has 120 damage per shot. Once a target is acquired, shooting will hit for sure. The next upgrade equips a dual laser (LNS Dual Lasers) with 160 damage per shot (costing 1999 Federation Credits) and the final upgrade is a quad gun (unsurprisingly, LNS Quad Gun) for the meagre price of 3499 credits. Get the last one as soon as possible, although you need to purchase the dual first anyway.
- Torpedo: The basic torpedo (Voy-Tec Industries Missile Mk I) has 200 damage and a reload time of 5 seconds. Earn 1799 Federation Credits and you can raise the stakes for 300 damage and 4 seconds of reload time with the Voy-Tec Industries Missile Mk II… Or go full power and get the Mk III model, 3 seconds and 400 damage for just 2999 credits. Very recommended… But I’d rather spend the cash in…
- Swarm: The swarm is a multi-missile shot. The most basic is the Hayata Aspis, which launches 3 simultaneous shots (targeting 3 enemies at once!) for 60 damage each with a reload time of 5 seconds. For 1699 credits you can upgrade to the Hayata Vespa, which have a damage power of 75, 4 shots and a reload time of 4 seconds. Finally, the Locust missiles fires 5 missiles at once for 100 damage and 3 seconds reload time. Get this as soon as possible, after the quad gun.
- Ship improvements: They improve the energy shield and hull strength. The Armadillo plating costs 2299 credits and take your basic 10 shield+10 hull to 20 shield and 20 hull. Good to have. For 4999 Federation Credits you can upgrade to the Turtle plating, which raises to 30 and 30. Required for the last level, at least.
There are a ton of enemies, constantly swarming you. This is why getting a fast firing weapon (the quad laser) and a fast targeting weapon (the Locust missiles) is a priority. It feels almost like a cheat or a trick: with the right manoeuvres and constant firing of the laser and swarm missiles you’ll end the game in a breeze. Just remember: a good weapon is a loading weapon in 99% of the cases. The only exception is when you are being attacked by swarm missiles (where your own barrage of swarms can cancel his) or when you need to destroy a turret in a capital ship and need a torpedo now. There are no tricks or cheats aside from just constant rolling and shooting, or at least none I’ve found so far. Still on the lookout (specially of a good way to evade the beams of the final enemy!)
As I said, Star Horizon is very short. Once you get used to the movement and firing sequences (you’ll see below it took me a while, since I got destroyed in the gameplay video), the only demanding level is the last one. The final “boss” has three stages and they are relatively hard (specially the last one) and the fact that you need to travel a very narrow corridor (which feels almost like playing SuperHexagon but with a spaceship) and shot a few torpedoes to a target does not help. Oh, and don’t miss the 2001 reference when you are playing the final boss. It made my night: I was just thinking of it as I approached the game end.
Would I Buy Again:Probably
Who Is It For:Space lovers
What I Like:Impressive visuals
What I Don't Like:Incredibly short
Final Statement:Even if very short, one of the most impressive games in the App Store
“Best Mobile Game” nominee @Game Connection Paris 2013 / Selected Projects finals
• Grab your phone and play instantly. Your screen is your controller (virtual sticks? Yuck!)
• Rescue your friends or obey the orders – follow the storyline and make choices
• Don't get shot - upgrade your ship with in-game currency (no IAP!) and weapons to finish your enemies in multiple astonishing ways
• Follow the relationship between the man and the machine spiced up with amusing conversations and absurd humor.
• Discover a wild variety of spaceships and fleet
• Use your skills to unlock achievements
• Support for game controllers
John doesn't fight to rack up kills or for honor and pride. At least not anymore. He just fights to survive and get the whole thing over with. His ship is controlled by Ellie, an Artificial Intelligence which is programmed to help pilots stay mentally strong throughout the war and which cannot kill human beings.
Federation is about to turn the tide of the war but then things start to go wrong. Ellie puts John into hibernation for 1000 years. Now he will have to discover what really happened and maybe, but just maybe, save the galaxy.