Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…. Wait, no, that’s not fair. However, there is the Intergalactic Corporation, known as the Federation, and a rebel group in the latest sci-fi space shooter called Star Horizon for Nintendo Switch. Will John, the space pilot hero in this game, be as cool as Han Solo, or will this game end in a spaceship?
Well, I admit I haven’t played Rails since Panzer Dragoon Orth on the original Xbox. It’s a fairly rare genre, but it has a rich history of great tracks, including Pokémon Snap and Star Fox 64. I was excited to dive into Star Horizon, as my return to the genre involved intense space discussions.
At the beginning of the campaign, you meet your rebel space pilot, John, and his ship’s AI, Ellie, who handles more situations than others. In a major conflict with the Federation, all seems lost, but Ellie is able to get you out of danger and into space. John awakens from stasis, confused and oxygenated by a malfunction in an earlier battle, and so your space adventure begins.
As mentioned earlier, Star Horizon is a space camera on rails, meaning that the camera moves independently in the environment while maintaining control of the ship in screen space, allowing you to move up, down, left, right, etc. Even if you’ve never played a game like this before, the controls are easy to understand, and even dodging shots is a breeze. You also have access to three weapons aboard your ship, each with a strategic function. Their base lasers are sufficient for incessant fighting and thankfully never overheat. There are also torpedoes and a swarm missile system, each attached to a button and automatically reloading fairly quickly with an infinite amount of ammunition. This means you never feel like you’re out of ammo and can actually go into space with your weapons drawn. No boring micromanagement!
Fighting is about placing a fairly wide edge grid over your opponent and then pressing buttons to fire one of your weapons. The game takes care of everything else for automatic aiming. Unfortunately, this was one of my first and biggest complaints about gambling. The combat is too simplistic, and I might want a smaller shooting range to have some more manual control over where my ship shoots. Simply put: The goal box is too big and leaves some opponents biting the dust too easily.
There is a plot and progression in Star Horizon, and it’s based on many space tropes and fictions that have been around for a while, so don’t expect anything dramatic. It sounds like a B-movie scenario, which is great because we’re not dealing with a game as big as Mass Effect here, but I ended up getting pissed off at how often I was called John. In fact, in the opening missions, almost every sentence started with John, this and John, that, and that remained for most of the game’s storyline. Still, the dialogue voices are quite good, and they have engaged funny voices for many of the characters.
Visually, the game is quite beautiful, but with a few flaws. There is a wide range of ship types, and in fact you will encounter large cruisers, space stations and more. The game has a camera well placed at the best possible angle, and it was fun to go around the obstacles and sometimes over them! I wish it had been a bit more dramatic – which you’ll see in the film. Since it was too relaxed a space flight for my taste. Most ships looked pretty cool from a distance, but the closer you got, the worse the quality of the textures were, and many objects had very low polygons, which detracted from the overall fun of the game.
During the campaign, you also have the option to spend the credits earned on upgrading your ship. This includes more effective weapons and armor systems, but also an increase in the temperature at which your ship will eventually be safe. The game consists of 10 missions and about 2-3 hours of gameplay, depending on how persistently you try to complete 3-star missions for which it is objectively unclear what the requirements are.
Having moved away from the railway genre for a while, Star Horizon was certainly easy to control and play, and I think it will be too easy for most, with gameplay that isn’t engaging enough to make it worthwhile. The game’s storyline was certainly clunky, but overall it wasn’t great, and if you want a budget shooting game with a ship, there’s always a decent space adventure here, but expectations should be tempered.
Star Horizon Magazine
- Charts – 6/10
- Sound – 6.5/10
- Gameplay – 4/10
- Late complaint – 3/10
Final thoughts : MEDIOCR
Star Horizon is a fairly standard rail shooting game set in space. Simple gameplay and an extremely boring automatic targeting system make the experience quite boring. The visuals, voice-overs and graphics are pretty good, but overall there is a lot to do.
Alex has been in the game industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.
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