Now is the time for something a bit different, in the form of Horizon Shift, a lovely little retro style shoot em’ up in a spaceship. The developer, Flump Studios, is mostly an unknown one with only a few games released prior to Horizon Shift. Following somewhat in the footsteps of old games like Asteroids; you will control a ship that moves along a Horizon line, whilst defending it and yourself from asteroids, ships and aliens.
There are 7 different modes, 3 of which are locked off at the beginning, from Arcade and survival to Tournament modes. With each mode you also have options to choose and alter, either by starting on a specific wave, the pad type you want to use, holding the fire button for Auto fire, the speed of the game, if you want a tutorial etc. You can also select the music you want, from the classic mode of the OST to differing tracks and alterations.
Arcade starts you off with 2 lives and is the basic start to any shoot em’ up game, with checkpoints after every boss in case of game over. Arrange gives you no lives and a checkpoint is after every level. Survival is almost just like Arcade, but doesn’t allow you to pick up powerups, no lives or checkpoints. Tournament mode gives no lives, powerups, bombs, hit-chains and doubles the speed of the game.
As you progress through any of the play modes you will unlock trophies, both in game and on Steam, along with other modes of play. Though getting to the later stages can be quiet a chore, with the difficulty soaring rather quickly, it could leave some less-able gamers behind.
Controlling your ship is easy enough, arrow keys move your shit left and right, up and down to change the direction on the Horizon you are facing, to the top of the screen or the bottom, sometimes hiding from fire. Your ship can also jump on the horizon line, which you will need to do when it gets destroyed piece by piece. You shoot by pressing Z and once you have hit enough targets you can use a screen-wide bomb with X.
Like any other shoot em’ up there is a plethora of enemy types you will face, from long enemies, fast and slow ones to enemies that shoot persistent beams, but with Horizon Shift they all get added together to create a Bullet Hell game. Hiding from ships, bullets, beams and even asteroids create a hellish experience of colour, but when you also have to defend your line it gets even harder as the more it gets hit the less room you have to manoeuvre. Colour coding the enemies tells you of what they will do, with green shooting you, red going along the line to chase you and so on.
The game has some very big difficulty jumps, as you progress every 3 levels you will face a boss, then a bonus stage then continue onwards. The amount of enemies and their differing types will multiply every so often, throwing in more strategy and parts of almost insanity causing scenarios as you have to dodge 23 bullets, 6 beams and a scuttling crab ship.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
The music in Horizon Shift is amazing; each track fits the game so well even with the different tiers of difficulty and game mode. The sci-fi tunes really add to the atmosphere of the game and immerses you in the bullet hell your shape ship is trying to survive in. I couldn’t find a fault with any specific track or the transitions they went through.
One of the major complaints I would have with the game is the difficulty curve, it shoots right up, off the chart after every boss, after wave 15 the game really becomes the bullet-hell its genre is known for. I think this is something that could turn away new customers pretty quickly, as it deterred me quite a bit when I first experienced it. Veteran gamers will find this challenge a welcome one and it can be overcome with practice with the game and learning the enemies.
After each boss there are several types of minigames, mostly a rehash of the old school game Breakout, where you use a bar to hit a ball into blocks, which in turn give you score depending on how deep they are. This can be a fun distraction as you transition from a previous boss to the next set of levels.
While the game as a whole is rather entertaining with very few flaws, I feel it is a bit lacking, through its aesthetic and the overall size of the game. The screen feels way to constraining; almost putting you in a small box to shoot things, and the power and speed upgrades don’t sate my appetite to enhance my ship at all. If there was more in the way of customisation, power-ups or ways to play the game I think it would have been a lot better. The game also feels “slow” as you are never really moving anywhere, just along a small line trying to dodge enemy attacks.
Overall Horizon Shift gets a 3.5/5; it’s an interesting take on the genre, with an interesting and fun mechanic of having two halves to the screen thanks to the Horizon. Adding in mini-games, several enemy types and a great soundtrack make this game worth the low low price it is asking. Beginner players might get frustrated at the difficulty of the game as it progresses, but can be overlooked for the amount of fun the game gives.
Grab the gameon steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/326120/
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.