Hello all. After another lengthy hiatus, this time due to Covid-19 related issues such as home schooling my daughter and various non-Covid health issues with my In-Laws, I’m finally able to bring you a review for Mars Horizon. Published by The Irregular Corporation and developed by Auroch Digital, Mars Horizon is a simulation game tasking players with leading mankind’s exploration into Space.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Visually, Mars Horizon has a very clean look to it. It’s a little too cartoon-ish for my own personal taste but the rocket launches are a treat to see the first few times, especially when you get to the bigger rockets. Building your base is from a top down, diagonal view similar to old SimCity titles. Building space faring rockets, planning missions, and conducting research into various technologies is done through a menu system that is simple but effective. Mission phases consist of an image of your satellite orbiting Earth or the Moon or any of the other planets of our solar system as it relates to the mission at hand. Launches and landings are done cinematically.
Soundwise, Mars Horizon features in inspiring soundtrack that hearkens to such films as The Right Stuff or Apollo 13, albeit on a much smaller scale. Launches use a generic countdown that is obviously going to be repetitive and a bit of boring after the first twenty launches. Some random radio chatter coming from Mission Control before, during, and after a launch whether it’s a success or a failure would have been welcome but, sadly, the developers either didn’t think of it or simply didn’t have the budget. Other than that, the rest of what you’ll hear are standard menu clicks and various bloops and beeps coming from your satellites with some occasional thruster burns thrown in for good measure.
In terms of Gameplay, Mars Horizon is basically a Mission Control Simulator. Players have to research various technologies, design their rockets and payloads, build and expand their base with different size launch pads and facilities. Depending on how you lay out your buildings, certain bonuses or penalties may be applied such as reduced costs or increases in reliability. Manage your budget, your mission selection, your launch schedule, and research priorities. Following a successful launch you can either manage the whole mission personally or opt to auto-resolve which will skip a kind of mini-game where you need to earn a certain number of points for a variety of different factors. Skipping the mini-game doesn’t mean your mission will automatically be successful as random failures do occur. The way it plays out actually reminds me of Apollo 13 where the one guy was stuck in the simulator trying to figure out how to power the ship back up after shutting down to conserve power. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. One of Ron Howard’s finest works.
As far as replay value goes, I feel that since it is such a niche title, some will get more out of it than most. However educational the game might be, if you don’t have a strong interest in the history of space exploration prior to purchasing the game, Mars Horizon does little to inspire it. To put it bluntly, despite the boring gameplay and repetitive launch cinematics, there is quite a lot of real history to learn and discover but many won’t have the stamina or the endurance to finally get a lander on Mars.
Those of you who already have an interest in Space faring expeditions will likely get the most out of Mars Horizon, as otherwise the fairly bland gameplay and presentation may well put you off digging into the experience. There’s a good amount of educational merit to it though, so hopefully it’ll inspire more people to learn!
But if I’m completely honest, the most fun I had from Mars Horizon came from the controller vibrating in my lap during rocket launches. And yes, Bigger is Better. Lol.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.