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Star Horizon Switch Review

On rails sci-fi shooter Star Horizon from Orbital Knight blasts its way to the Nintendo Switch with mixed results.

I say this with most of my reviews these days, but the Switch truly is a goldmine for developers porting successful mobile titles over.

Naively thinking Star Horizon is a Switch exclusive, it was a mobile title five years ago, but out now on the Nintendo eShop.

Does it translate well, or is it a game you should avoid?

Read on in this…

Star Horizon Switch Review

I took a different approach when reviewing the game as I confidently had my ‘puter on my lap while playing the game.

This review starts with my first impressions mostly, which I sometimes fail to record when posting an article.

First thoughts: ewww… it’s inverted.

Star Horizon
Boom! Source: PR

After correcting that glaring error, it wasn’t long before I was flying my ship as John, with AI, Ellie, in tow.

Star Horizon is an on-rails shooter which essentially means it’s a Disney ride, but you can shoot stuff at the same time.

You control your ship with the stick, dodge with the R button, A shoots your gun, B for a torpedo and Y for a swarm attack.

The X button was listed too, which had the function of ‘skip’ – all I could think of was there was some hack that would skip any levels that were a trifle too hard.

No, that’s not it – it’s used is for skipping scenes, you lazy readers.

If you do want some sort of shortcut, then there’s a selection of difficulty modes that will ensure your significant other will choose you in a space dogfight (i.e. make the game easier to make you look better).

But that’s not entirely true as Star Horizon can be exceptionally hard.

Well done, John.

Oh my god – the AI’s lines throughout the tutorials and the rest of the gameplay are so infused with HAL that I felt that a little creeped out, Dave.

It’s like inputting lyrics of a song into Siri to repeat.

Google ‘enunciation’, as that’s all I want to say on the matter; it was unintentionally funny.

Anyways, after establishing the controls, you find that a few friends accompany John, and this was when I could smell Starwing (Starfox if you swing that way).

Much like the Nintendo classic, you can barrel roll left and right (often without the intended result of evading an enemy) and engage in some surreal banter.

Star Horizon - Inferno
Burn baby, burn. Source: PR

Sometimes it’s quite witty, other times it’s odd:

Did you sleep well?

Space pal

Followed by:

Like a frozen yoghurt.

John

Funny, that’s exactly what I said to my wife this morning. 

I didn’t. 

Nobody says that. Ever.

Additionally, shoot your crew repeatedly, and they’ll still talk to you as if nothing’s happened, sharing recipes and the like.

There’s also the dialogue choices that can affect your game too.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Star Horizon is a cinematic piece, and there are quite a few interruptions such as the pop-up at the beginning of the game:

“You will have to make various decisions throughout the game, and you’ll get 5 seconds for each one!”

What!?! It takes me a week to get around to ordering the dog food that’s running low.

Paths include helping your fellow teammates or sticking to the mission, while it doesn’t dramatically change the narrative, it’s always nice to be able to interact, as the game can feel very linear.

It was typically the cinematic framing of the game that slowed everything down, however.

Referring to a theme park again, the camera glides around colossal ships as if on one of those helicopter gift packages.

Star Horizon - Asteroids
Asteroids, revisited. Source: PR

While you can move around within the screen, you can’t control your path.

Speaking of control, I found the accuracy of the weapons weak – the crosshair was huge, and even when lining up a target in the centre, my rockets would veer off in the opposite direction.

Theme Park Ride

With a ride, you’re experiencing rather than interacting, and though the camera movements in Star Horizon can be irritating, the overall presentation is excellent.

Some gamers may dismiss it straight away, comparing it to a triple-A, but I found the ships and backgrounds rendered really well and were a highlight.

In fear of breaking the internet, I’d rather play Star Horizon than Starwing.

Bear in mind that Starwing was untouchable back in the day and is without a doubt, a classic – but this game certainly had its moments and the addition of upgrades made it more enjoyable.

Throughout the game, you can collect credits which can, in turn, be used towards a new ship and upgrades such as armour and weapons.

On that basis, you will be expected to grind a handful of times as the game can get quite harsh at times.

Additionally, due to the on-rails element, Star Horizon feels quite sluggish in that a relatively short level is dragged out through looping here there and everywhere as if on a space tour.

Though there aren’t many levels, they can be quite long and sometimes frustrating as it’s not always clear where to hit some of the bosses, despite being given a clear objective.

With funny dialogue (sometimes intentional, other times absurd) and decent graphics, Star Horizon does offer up a cinematic experience. 

However, it isn’t as memorable as it could be as due to the cinematic element, there’s a lot of segments that feel drawn out, and there’s not enough to keep you engaged as a spectator.

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