When cheesy dialogue in a ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of way is a games’ best asset, it’s probably best to avoid it unless you’re the kind of person that has a Top 5 film list containing the likes of Con Air and The Room.
Star Horizon is that game – an on-rails space shooter set in the distant future. Set across ten missions, you control a pilot named John, a common name for space travellers. Interestingly though, John works for the Federation, who control the entire galaxy. The Federation are about to turn the tide of the war against the Rebels when his Mothership is destroyed and the AI controlling his ship malfunctions, putting John to sleep for several years.
After awakening from his hypersleep, John must figure out what really happened and, more importantly, where he is and how to get back home.
During these missions John will face several moral dilemmas – does he save his friends or complete the primary objective is just in the first mission for example – and these have an outcome on your overall score and performance. After having to defend yourself from a pesky rebel for example, you can choose to spare him or destroy him. Sparing him will abruptly end the mission with a lower score, but that may not be the last you see of him…
John will then face a huge decision whether to join back up with the Federation or fight for the side of the rebels. There is a real grey area between the decisions with positives and negatives to both. If the story made me feel more invested, I would have a genuine concern over what decision to make; as it is, I picked whichever seemed the easier of the two at the time.
Final scores award stars at the end of each level, up to a maximum of three. Attaining three stars can be tricky so thankfully there is the option to replay levels as many times as you desire. You are also awarded credits after each stage, that you can use to upgrade your ships weapons and defences.
You do have a decent arsenal at your disposal including a standard gun, multiple missiles and a destructive torpedo. The missiles and torpedo both run on a cooldown to avoid spamming but the cooldown isn’t very long and along with the barrage from your standard gun, most enemies won’t post much of a threat for long.
The replayability is a good addition though, because Star Horizon is short. Most missions only take around 15 minutes to complete – again though this depends on what decisions are made – so you could have the entire game wrapped up within around three hours. But being on-rails, other than the decisions you make in-game, there is precious little else to see.
There is also an issue with the objectives showing up. Again, due to that on-rails experience, you have no control over where your ship goes; the only thing you can control is the shooting. So, when an objective appears it will invariably need taking down, but if the marker doesn’t show up to highlight where to shoot – or on other occasions doesn’t stay on screen for long enough – Star Horizon is made infinitely harder by simply not knowing what you are supposed to be doing.
And then there is the price. Star Horizon launched back in 2014 priced at £2.49 on Android, but on the Nintendo Switch, it is up at £8.99, with no additional features.
But what you do get is a campy, B-movie space setting. The voice work is very basic – whether intentionally done or not I have still yet to decide – but by being at both ends of the emotional spectrum, it works. The AI offers no inflections in her voice, even when announcing catastrophic events, but John’s responses can be so over-the-top that you feel like you’re at times playing a B-movie. It’s very reminiscent of the early Resident Evil and Command & Conquer games.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much else positive to write about. Graphically it is okay but again not anything to write home about. There are supposedly ten different enemies in place too, but when you can pick them off as soon as they appear on your radar, they could well all look the same due to their distance away from your ship. To be fair, the space panoramas and the ship you control can look pretty, but ships and other floating objects that you fly around all have pretty ugly textures.
In an attempt to channel into the void that is a Star Fox game on the Nintendo Switch, Star Horizon offers a very brief and basic interlude. Almost everything about the game is average; it is the embodiment of ‘just alright’. There is nothing to distinguish this version between its mobile counterpart – save for £6.50 – and due to that, I would recommend avoiding at all costs on your Switch.
Release date: May 2020
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks for the free copy: No Gravity Games