Published on May 13th, 2014 | by Ben Rueter0
Horizon begins with a cutscene following one of NASA’s Voyager spacecrafts as a soars through our known galaxy, until it collides with an alien space craft.
The first mission forces you to investigate the alien craft, which will eventually lead to humanity opening its first communications with an alien race.
From here, Horizon is all about growing in the known and unknown space surrounding Earth and pushing humanity further into the future. The problem with Horizon, is that, it is stuck in the past.
Developed by a small team called L3O Interactive, Horizon is a turn-based strategy game with an deep focus on research, politics and war.
While Horizon excels at offering complex technologies to research and trade; Horizon is bogged down by micromanaging and an under developed battle system.
Horizon’s problems seem to stem from a lack of development time or polish. There are some great ideas here, no doubt.
Visually the retro art style may be a turn off for some players. It is very reminiscent of 1995 PC games with very simple animations. It’s an interesting art decision when going up against similar 4X games such as the Civilization series or Sins of a Solar Empire. If anything, L3O follows through with its art style. If players are looking for a bit of nostalgia, they won’t be let down.
For a game this complex, the tutorial is not very helpful. This is a major problem for Horizon. RTS virgins may avoid Horizon, but even for players seasoned in the genre, it’s a bit daunting. By no means is this an easy game to get into. Players may struggle with their first play through. It’s an overwhelming amount of data that is dumped on you right away and Horizon does a poor job of bringing you up to speed on pretty much everything the games has to offer.
Once you get into it, you learn that technology is key to expanding the human race. Invest time and money into a certain technologies, like nuclear engines can pay off for space exploration or it can be a key component in easing hostile negotiations with an alien race.
Research and development can be be broken into multiple tiers giving players many different routes to advance their race. Some of these advancements come in the form of quests, which are lazily discovered and can be simply completed over the course of one game. New tech can also be discovered by researching and trading. The trade and research becomes the most fulfilling aspect of Horizon.
If you scratch another races’ back, they may offer some fancy tech for you. Though, the alien races at times can be a bit finicky. Refusing a trade with one race could result in a loss of respect for humanity, which may cascade into a war. Things don’t seem to happen gradually in Horizon, which leads to plenty of micromanaging relationships. This wouldn’t be an issue if only there was more of a reward for devoting so much time into managing these relations. It instead, feelings like a chore.
During war is when you get to delve into the battle strategies and where you will learn to avoid war simply because, war is boring in Horizon. The battle system is unfortunately the worst part of Horizon.
Animations are are simplistic and the battle maneuvers are usually as simple as draining an enemy’s shields and making sure damage is displaced on your ship as to not expose an holes in your defense.
The battles become a bore fast. Auto battle doesn’t help as it plays out the match at an accelerated speed, but it never skips the battles. Some large battles can take longer than five minutes to finish in auto mode.
The micromanaging of your individual ships feels unnecessary, despite the amount of detail you can put into one fleet or ship. Players can customize loading bays, weapons and engine components giving each ship personal flair.
Though, it seems that war is unavoidable in Horizon with the plethora of different alien species to interact with. Eventually, you’ll rub someone the wrong way.
Horizon does a splendid job of introducing each unique race fairly quickly, giving you a sense of progression very early on in the game. After 10 minutes in a match, you already have a handful of races to trade with and communicate.
Outside of the combat, Horizon introduces the prospect of some deep strategy and galactic politics. But, when Horizon is placed next to Sins of a Solar Empire and GalCiv, it’s easy to go for another game in this genre. Horizon turns into a slog, but it’s not without some interesting ideas. Sadly, these ideas never feel fully developed.
3 out of 5