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By Mokman30-10-2013
Toast (editor)
Bis18marck70 (editor)

The Defence

L30 Interactive
Iceberg Interactive
Indie, Strategy
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5
AMD equivalent
Nvidia equivalent
AMD Radeon HD 4850
4 GB
2 GB

The four X's of turn-based strategy games are nearly as old as PC gaming itself - explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. Yet, if you would take a look at the modern gaming industry, such games are conspicuously rare. For a period, the industry underwent a distinct dry spell in such games, focusing on less intellectual genres, shifting towards the visceral. It is then a personal pleasure to see once again a proliferation of the genre, marked with offerings such as Civilization V, Rome 2 Total War, Endless Space, and now - Horizon. Two particular games that stand out in relation to Horizon are Endless Space and Galactic Civilizations, each a somewhat different beast but considered to be two most prevalent games in the space game genre, aside from Sins of the Solar Empire. It then has to be noted that Horizon is not made by one of the industry heavy-hitters, but instead by an indie developer - would Horizon be worthy of standing beside the genre greats, or will it just end up as a huge mess?

Don't be intimidated by the complicated screen, it's actually a really elegant concept.

Don't be intimidated by the complicated screen, it's actually a really elegant concept.

We are talking about an early build here, but one thing stands out when you start up Horizon: complexity. Without the tutorial, simply jumping into the game will leave you dazed and confused with the options surrounding you, strange icons staring back glumly from your screen. Of course, this is not a problem rare with space-styled games. A quick glance at the X series or EVE Online, famed for its difficulty curve, and you’ll know what I mean. With a fan-base made up mostly of science fiction aficionados, some of whom own several physics degrees, it is not a surprise that such games are not as easy-going as the industry standard. Yet, Horizon takes a special place in the sheer amount of different aspects that it encompasses, ranging from the classic empire-building turn-based strategy game, to tactical combat on a smaller system map, to the diplomatic machinations of strange alien races and the culture of their kinds, to even an overarching main storyline that plays into the rest of the aspects.

It seems to aim for an open-world situation, with a central plot tying it into a single game. Technology will be researched, diplomatic pacts will be made, while all along space ships and probes traverse to the edges of systems on a convoluted tactical map offering an action-point based isometric tactical system. Economies will be managed, along with six potential production queues for each planet that you own within a system, of which there are many.

The short cutscenes really do emphasize the fact that they've married a campaign with the sandbox game.

The short cutscenes really do emphasize the fact that they've married a campaign with the sandbox game.

Unfortunately, while this sounds great in theory, it works out like a mixed bag. Some portions are interesting, but others are strange and unimaginative, with various elements do not yet gel together in an innovative manner. While each portion works decently by itself, except for the tactical space combat, which is, until now, quite dull and half-baked, I hope to see more fluidity between the different elements once the finished product comes out. After a while, as one becomes used to the game mechanics this feeling lessened, but never really did it go away. It often seems that one moves from set-piece to set-piece, with no connectivity between one’s actions. Yet, taking the positive out of this, we can already see that the various parts of the game have progressed well to the point where they are either good, or at least do what they are supposed to do. Here’s hoping that L30 Interactive finds the ropes to bind it altogether.

The economies are satisfyingly complicated for those into deep simulations, but while the juggling of various production queues are interesting, they never seem to break through the point where they can no longer be called generic. What the devs have created till now is a grand economy in space, with supply and demand dictating trade, but without a truly unique and personal touch that would distinguish it from other games of the genre. It is good that they still have time to make adjustments, to experiment and to be daring, for a fresh look on deep-space economics could very well revitalize the genre.

Best thing about the game - crazy-looking aliens.

Best thing about the game - crazy-looking aliens.

That they can implement newer features is proven with their innovative look at Tech research. Indeed, it is presented in a genuinely new way for the genre, if extremely confusing at first, with simultaneous research across all fields. Unfortunately, while beneficial to the game, it is more of a small change, one already seen in other genres but it does go to show that L30 Interactive can implement genre-atypical features successfully and, with the strong foundation they have created, we do encourage them to not shy away from this practice before the final release. We wish them the best of luck.


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Posts: 28

Very cool. This looks great.